12 Nov

#DebateEnRedes: How the subject “dollar” affected the web between the primary (PASO) and the general elections

Por Celeste Gómez Wagner and Mariela García

Updated 27 de December, 2019 at 12:04 pm

If you only have a few seconds, read these lines:

  • Subjects related to the North American currency prompted more than half a million tweets in Argentina between the primary (PASO) and the general elections on October 27.
  • The interactions peaked one day after the victory of Alberto Fernández and coincided with the announcement of foreign exchange restrictions.
  • The two most shared messages on Twitter were published on Sunday, 27, and they addressed the possible rise of the dollar on the next day.

The dollar has been one of the most frequent subjects in the political, economic and communication agendas. Chequeado measured interactions on Twitter and monitored online searches focused on the electoral context. Here is an analysis of the main results.

More than half a million tweets (517,300) about the dollar were shared in Argentina between August 9 – two days before the primary elections (PASO) – and October 28 – the day after the general elections. Almost 70% of the messages were shared from other accounts.

According to data from the Central Bank of Argentina (BCRA), the dollar retail buying rate rose from $46.54 to $57.29 (in Argentinian pesos) between Friday before the primary elections and Monday, after them. Some communication vehicles (see here and here) understood this rise as a negative market reaction to Alberto Fernández’s victory (Frente de Todos). From this moment on, the currency rate reached $62 on August 30 and started dropping on the first days of September, floating between 58 and 59 pesos. In October, the dollar remained around $60 until reaching $63 on the Friday prior to the general elections. With variations, this rate has endured until today according to official information.

Dollar rate evolution:

Plan 1: Absolute Variation
Plan 2: Relative Variation

Graph elaborated with public information provided by the Central Bank of Argentine about the reference buying exchange currency rate in the city of Buenos Aires.

Online searches expressed a clear interest in this subject. Using Google Trends, Chequeado observed that the word “dólar” reached a peak of searches on August 12, 2019, when the rate rose.

On the other hand, searches that prompted the word “cepo” peaked on September 1st. On that day, the Central Bank promulgated a decree limiting the sale of dollars to natural people to US$ 10 thousand per month. Printed newspapers warned on their first pages about withdrawals of dollar deposits.

However, on Twitter, the peak of interactions was not registered after the primary elections, but after the general elections in October. At 8:00 AM on this day, the president of BCRA, Guido Sandleris, announced new currency exchange restrictions to “preserve the reserves.” With this measure, “the maximum sum that natural people can buy without prior authorization of the Central Bank” decreased from US$ 10 thousand to US$ 200 per month.

Interactions on Twitter

Concerning the hashtags most used on Twitter, besides “#dollar”, “#debatear2019” stood out, the official hashtag promoted by the National Electoral Chamber about the debates before the elections (see here and here). “#albertopresidente”, “#argentina” and “#macrieselproblema” were the top-ranked hashtags.

Concerning the two candidates disputing the elections, 32 thousand tweets related “dólar” to president Mauricio Macri, of the coalition Juntos por el Cambio, against 18 thousand tweets related to Fernández. These mentions to the candidates can be either for or against them.

In the period analyzed, the two most shared messages on Twitter about the dollar were posted on the day of elections. Retweeted 11.5 thousand times, the most shared tweet was posted by @Danigadan, a user with only 178 followers who has been active since 2013. In her message, she criticized those who voted for the candidate of the coalition Frente de Todos hoping that the currency rate would fall. It received 43.5 thousand likes.

Tweet: If you voted for Fernández and thought that the dollar would fall to $10, the liter of gasoline would cost $15 and you would eat with $50, let me tell you that you’re idiot and ignorant.

The second most shared tweet was published by the user @flacopod, with more than 344 thousand followers and active since 2015. His message included a video of the trap singer Duki, where he incited the YouTuber Yao Cabrera to fight shouting “get down, bastard, get down.” His tweet read “Me when I see the dollar tomorrow,” as a joke about the possible currency fall, which received 33 thousand likes.

The third most shared tweet was posted by the presenter, actress, and model Luciana Salazar (@lulipop07), a highly active user on Twitter with 1.5 million users. On October 15, she posted:

Tweet 2: If you give the country to a group of incompetent ineptocrats, they will return it with an interannual inflation rate of 60%, 6 million more poor people, unpayable external debt, 10% of unemployed people, and a dollar exchange rate of 60 pesos. A woman (Lagarde) gave you money, and you did anything.

RT: Macri on populism: “It is as if you handed over the administration of your house to your wife, used the credit card, and one day they would come to mortgage your house.”

Salazar included in her tweet an audio posted by @elcancillercom, a digital platform of news and current subjects, where Macri says in a phone interview to Radio Mon (from Pergamino) that “populism mortgages your future so that you can live the present, and when it’s over, it’s over;” and he adds: “it is as if you handed over the administration of your house to your wife, used the credit card, and one day they would come to mortgage your house.” This message received 39,000 likes.

Lastly, among the most active accounts on Twitter (in number of mentions, responses or shares related to dollar), the already mentioned users @Danigadan and @flacopod stood out, along with @martinpasi22 (with 209 followers and active since 2019), Gustavo Sylvestre (@Gatosylvestre), journalist and radio host at Rádio 10 and C5N, with more than 460 thousand followers; and Roberto Cachanosky (@RCachanosky), head of the websiteeconomiaparatodos, with 144 thousand followers.

* The Digital Democracy Room is a project of FGV DAPP in Brazil in partnership with Chequeado, Linterna Verde and Ojo Público. It’s goal is to monitor and analyze the digital conversations regarding the electoral context.

The analysis is available the website of Chequeado here.