31 Mar

Changes in government increase isolation of President Bolsonaro’s support group on the social networks

Cabinet reshuffle dominates political debate

Updated 5 de April, 2021 at 9:32 am

  • Pro-government profiles decrease to 12% of the total, while critical users reach 26%. However, pro-government users are more active and correspond to 31% of the interactions, against 29% of the interactions generated by the opposition;
  • Pro-government group tries to frame the reshuffle as a strengthening of the government, but the collective resignation of the commanders of the Armed Forces decreased the effect of these narratives.

Between Monday (29) at noon and Tuesday (30) at 2pm, there were more than 4.51 million posts on Twitter about the political, economic and health situation in Brazil, according to a survey by the Department of Public Policy Analysis of Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV DAPP). The debate was marked by three moments of intense debate on the platform, which corresponded to an average of 259 thousand tweets. The first moment happened on Monday at noon, with the confirmation of Ernesto Araújo’s resignation from the Ministry of Foreign Relations; the second happened at 6pm, after the announcement of the dismissal of the minister of Defense, Fernando Azevedo e Silva; the last moment happened at 11pm, after the disclosure of Araújo’s resignation letter.

Evolution of the political and health debate on Twitter
Period: from January 29 at noon until January 30 at 2pm

The changes in different spheres of the federal government prompted another political debate on Twitter at the end of the morning and beginning of the afternoon on Tuesday (30). The resignation of the three commanders of the Army in response to the dismissal of the former minister of Defense Azevedo e Silva, which had been speculated since the previous day, kept the debate at around 189,1 thousand posts at 1pm.

Map of interactions in the political and health debate on Twitter
Period: from January 29 at noon until January 30 at 2pm

Source: Twitter | Elaborated by: FGV DAPP

Blue – 12% of profiles | 30.7% of interactions
Group formed by influencers and members of the government, with tweets reinforcing trust in Jair Bolsonaro’s political administration, such as the mobilization around the hashtag #OPovoEstaComBolsonaro (the people are with Bolsonaro). The resignation of the minister Ernesto Araújo was seen as a defeat for the more ideological sectors of the government, but the announcement of the substitution of other ministers changed the mood in the group. Particularly, the highlight was the dismissal of the former minister of Defense, Fernando Azevedo e Silva, and of the former General Counsel for the Federal Government José Levi. The possibility of a change in the command of the Army with the resignation of General Edson Pujol was initially seen as a sign of internal strengthening of Bolsonaro. However, the collective resignation of the commanders of the three Armed Forces was received with sobriety and silence, with only a few tweets trying to associate the high command of the armed forces with globalism.

Yellow – 25.9% of profiles | 29.4% of interactions
Led by digital influencers, journalists, traditional media and alternate media outlets, this group saw the quick reshuffle of ministerial cabinets as a reflex of an alleged weakening of the federal government. Predicting an eventual military crisis stemming mostly for the dismissal of Fernando Azevedo e Silva from the Ministry of Defense, the posts implied that Jair Bolsonaro is supposedly losing one of the most important pillars of his administration. Suspecting more serious consequences of the general’s resignation regarding the situation of the Armed Forces, many profiles fear the possibility of the coup d’etat and demand the president’s impeachment or resignation. The hashtags #renunciabolsonaro (resign Bolsonaro) and #forabolsonaro (out Bolsonaro) appeared in 23.9 thousand and 17.9 thousand posts, respectively.

Pink – 50.2% of profiles | 36.4% of interactions
Group that includes digital influencers and profiles of ordinary users focusing on commenting the recent numbers and impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on people’s daily lives, sometimes comparing the situation with the reality show Big Brother Brasil. Many posts lamented the average daily toll of 3 thousand covid-19 deaths in the country and told stories of specific cases, such as people being vaccinated or dying in line while waiting for medical attention in health facilities. Some profiles also commented about the lack of conscience and sensitivity of some BBB participants regarding the collapse of the country’s health system.


On Facebook, there were more than 7 thousand posts published in 2.9 thousand pages with more than 50 thousand followers and verified profiles. These publications reached 2.9 million interactions, with peaks on March 29 at noon and 4pm, and on March 30 at 1pm.

Pages with the most interactions in the debate about the cabinet reshuffle and the crisis of the armed forces
Period: from January 29 at noon until January 30 at 2pm

The analysis of the major actors in the debate shows that, out of the 20 pages and profiles with the most interactions, 7 were profiles associated with the government, such as the congresswoman Carla Zambelli (PSL-SP), President Jair Bolsonaro, and the president of the Constitution and Justice Commission of the Chamber of Deputies, Bia Kicis (PSL-DF). Only five pages of the opposition appeared in the list, but the pages of the senator Humberto Costa and of the independent media collective Mídia Ninja obtained the most interactions. There was also a large presence of pages of media outlets, such as Uol Notícias, G1 and Estadão, which accounted for 323 thousand interactions.