23 Oct

#DebateEnRedes: the most discussed themes of the presidential debate on Twitter Argentina were Employment, Infrastructure and Security

Por Celeste Gómez Wagner and Mariela García

Updated 28 de January, 2020 at 4:11 pm

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

  • Macri, Fernández and Lavagna were mentioned on tweets regarding the employment situation or corruption accusations.
  • Espert and Gómez Centurión were associated with the topic of Security.
  • The hashtag #MacriPresidente beat #AlbertoPresidente by far.

On Sunday, October 20, the second mandatory electoral debate was held for the presidential elections happening on October 27. The six candidates debated at the Law School of the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) about Security; Employment, Production and Infrastructure; Federalism, Institutional Quality and the Role of the State; and Social Development, the Environment and Housing.

The debate was followed and commented about on Twitter. Here are the most commented thematic blocks and the ones in which each candidate stood out, as well as the words, phrases or hashtags used the most by the users of the social network.

From the start of the debate until 24 hours after it, the theme Employment, Production and Infrastructure was the most mentioned (34%). The two candidates with the most votes in the primary elections (the PASO) – Fernández and Macri – exchanged accusations of corruption in public projects and were the protagonists of one the most commented moments of the night.

Fernández associated the “Macri Clan” and the president’s father with corruption. Macri considered it “very inelegant to mention someone who is not in this world anymore and cannot defend himself”. Afterwards, he mentioned people related to the previous government who were accused of corruption crimes, such as Lázaro Báez and the former Public Projects secretary, José López.

In addition, he said in another moment: “The public projects were a source of corruption. They stole money from the projects and I’m not the one saying this, the judges who sentenced De Vido, Jaime and López are. As well as Lavagna, who resigned while denouncing this”. José Luis Espert also criticized the candidate for the Frente de Todos, directly questioning Fernández: “Did you not see anything, or were you an accomplice?”

The second theme that ranked the highest was Security, with 28% of the mentions. The candidates used terms such as “fast draw” and drug trafficking more than once. In addition, Macri and Del Caño showed opposing views when mentioning Santiago Maldonado, the young man who drowned on October 17, 2017 in Cushamen (Chubut). Del Caño blamed the Gendarmería (the Argentine security force); Macri said the accusations were “a clear attack on an institution that is well known for itws work against drug trafficking”.

In third place came Federalism, Institutional Quality and the Role of the State (24%), when co-participation and the connections with governors were discussed. During this stage, Espert said to Macri and Fernández: “Boys, hug each other. You are not so different”, which generated many tweets.

In the final part of the debate came the theme Social Development, the Environment and Housing (14%), when one of the most mentioned questions by the candidates was the difficulties faced by those who had access to UVA mortgage credits (Unidad de Valor Adquisitivo, a financial tool created by the Argentine Central Bank) and Fernández announced that he will create the Housing Ministry if elected president.

From the study of the mentions to the candidates according to the thematic blocks (including positive, negative or neutral mentions), it was detected that the president, Fernández, and Lavagna stood out regarding the topics Employment, Production and Infrastructure. The used commented the discussions led by the candidates about the current job market and the corruption accusations related to public projects and investment on infrastructure.

Meanwhile, Espert and Gómez Centurión received more mentions related to Security. Espert demonstrated his opposition to “guaranteeism” and proposed to reduce the age of criminal responsibility to 14. In addition, the criticized roadblocks and said: “strikers who block streets or roads end up in prison. Grabois had better watch out, huh” (referring to Juan Grabois, leader of the Confederation of Workers of the Popular Economy – CTEP). In turn, the candidate for Frente NOS focused on the battle against drug trafficking, and emphasized that: “This war must be won, no matter who falls”.

Mentions to the candidates on Twitter according to the themes of the second presidential debate




Social Development 

The data refers to the activity on Twitter between 9 p.m. on sunday, October 20 and 9 p.m. on Monday, October 21, 2019.
Source: Elaborated by Chequeado from a keyword search and from the accounts of the presidential candidates.

Del Caño received the same number of mentions in the topics Employment, Production and Infrastructure and Security. He proposed the creation of a “genuine” project and criticized the minister of National Security, Patricia Bullrich, whom he described as “politically responsible for the repression which ended up with the deaths of Santiago Maldonado and Rafael Nahuel”.

Almost all candidates, with the exception of Del Caño, received a lower number of mentions in the topic Social Development, the Environment and Housing.

On the other hand, the analysis of the trending topics (the most commented topics at a given time on Twitter) showed that tweets connected to the candidate Fernández were related to “Go work as a journalist” (said by Alberto Fernández to Rodrigo Jorge, of the radio Mitre, on Monday after the debate) and “corruption in the government” (because Macri and Fernández exchanged several corruption accusations).

Among the tweets related to Mauricio Macri, the trending topics were “Alberto Fernández”, with whom he debated in many occasions about the country’s situation when his administration began and on the present, and “Macri mandate”, related to the outcome of this 4-year administration.

Regarding Espert, the tweets included the themes “Nico del Caño”, “vote for Espert” and “Alberto Fernández”; regarding Gómez Centurión, many tweets associated him with Espert as two candidates close to each other in their political positions. Among the tweets associated with Lavagna, the trends were “Candidate Lavagna”, “Roberto Lavagna” and “Gómez Centurión”. Lastly, for Del Caño, the trending topics were “Alberto Fernández”, “Nico del Caño” and “Macri and Fernández”.

In summary, the trending topic “Alberto Fernández” was present in most tweets in which Macri, Espert and Del Caño were mentioned. Similarly, “Alberto Fernández” was the most mentioned phrase about the debate on Twitter, not considering the official hashtag #DebateAr2019. The podium is completed by #macripresidente – promoted through the official account of Juntos por el Cambio, @juntoscambioar – and “corruption”, one of the topics of the discussion.

The Frente de Todos was promoted through the official account #AlbertoPresidente, but placed twelfth in the complete list of hashtags, words and phrases used the most.

*For the following graph, the generic hashtags #DebateAr2019, #DebatePresidencial2019, #DebateArg2019, #DebatePresidencial and #Debate2019 were removed.

About the methodology: The data for analysis were obtained following the methodology developed by the Department of Public Policy Analysis of Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV DAPP). A general search filter was developed in order to retain tweets with keywords, hashtags and mentions to candidates, elections and debates. Search rules were generated for the thematic analysis, which include other specific terms used in the candidates’ texts and/or emerging from the debate on Twitter.

* 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.