05 Nov

Emergency aid and the privatization of the SUS predominate in the economic debate on the networks

Updated 12 de November, 2020 at 12:53 pm

  • On Twitter, 340 thousand mentions to economic topics were identified in the five capitals monitored from October 15 to November 04. The federal government’s proposal to concede basic healthcare services to the private sector was the target of criticism in all capitals, as well as references to the Covid-19 emergency aid;
  • In São Paulo, commercial relations with China (and the purchase of the Coronavac) were a highlight, while in Rio de Janeiro public investment and the fight against corruption organized the propositional agenda of the candidates. Crivella sought to associate the defense of conservative values with the promotion of municipal welfare policies; 
  • On Instagram and Facebook, the economic agenda was highly polarized by both right- and left-wing candidates, especially in São Paulo, with disputes between Guilherme Boulos and Arthur do Val. In Fortaleza, however, the main candidate engaging the topic was Celio Studart. In Recife, Marília Arraes and João Campos focused on different approaches to municipal economic investment, while in Salvador, Bruno Reis presented investment proposals for infrastructure and urban logistics to generate jobs; 

The economic agenda for the municipal elections, similarly to what has been happening in the general debate about the disputes in the country’s capitals, remains dependent on the national context and on the federal governments public policies to fight the pandemic. The provisions and support packages for the population stood as major topics in the five capitals monitored by the Department of Public Policy Analysis of Fundação Getulio Vargas, as well as the strong rejection of the project (which has already been disregarded) to concede healthcare units to the private sector, which was dubbed “privatization of the SUS” on the internet. Therefore, even topics of strong interest to the local populations such as the public budget, investments and job generation ended up in the background.

On Twitter, the economic debate associated with the elections and with Covid-19 had 340 thousand mentions from October 15 to November 04, including references in Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, São Paulo and Fortaleza. In the capitals of the Northeast region, the Covid-19 emergency aid played a predominant role, and only in São Paulo did the private management of the public health system not become one of the five major economic subtopics. São Paulo also saw a more significant role of the national economic agenda with the highest volume of mentions to China, which were organized around the investment in Chinese vaccines and the general situation of the commercial relations with that country.

Major economic topics of the electoral debate in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Fortaleza, Recife and Salvador
Analysis date: October 15 to November 04


In Rio de Janeiro, the management of the government budget stood out as a focus of concern and criticism by part of the population and partisan groups from different political spheres, mostly due to reports of corruption and references to the decrease in investments in the city, which were explored by the leading candidates for mayor in the opinion polls. Job generation also played an important role, like in São Paulo, where there is still a strong impact of negative mentions about privileges and wages of civil servants, especially the Judiciary Branch (of state and federal competence).

The inflationary increase in the prices of basic food items, which has been present in the economic discussion for months in the country, was especially important for the debate in Rio de Janeiro, Recife and Fortaleza, while in Salvador there was a significant demand for investments in public education. The availability of credit and financing for companies and citizens was a highlight in the 3 capitals studied in the Northeast region, although it was rarely addressed by the candidates on Twitter. In Recife, there was strong criticism of the low purchasing power enabled by the minimum wage. In the capitals, in general, there was a strong correlation between the economic subtopics and the high exchange rate of the dollar as well as the countrys slow recovery from the pandemic.

On Facebook and Instagram, right- and left-wing candidates stood out in the economic debate

Unlike on Twitter, the digital campaign focusing on economic recovery on Facebook and Instagram saw an explicit polarization between right- and left-wing candidates, with support for expansive investment projects and changes in the public management of cities. In São Paulo, for example, Guilherme Boulos and Arthur do Val, both candidates who invested heavily in electoral engagement, presented completely opposed proposals, with a large advantage in terms of impact over their opponents: Boulos, on the left-wing, focused on challenging the national political scenario and on projects to expand public investment in different sectors; Arthur do Val, with a liberal orientation, questioned political and public spending and opposed taxes, emphasizing austerity.

Digital engagement of the candidates for mayor of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro
Analysis date: October 15 to November 04

In Rio de Janeiro, the focus on associating Marcelo Crivella with the federal government has also applied to the economic emphasis of the current mayor, who proposed changes in financial management to adopt welfare measures in light of investments in the city’s carnival festival, mixing the economic agenda with the “preservation of family values”. Martha Rocha, who has the same level of digital impact on the economic debate as Eduardo Paes, made greater efforts to promote a new transparent administration of the city, associating the problems of municipal investment with cases of corruption in the city and in the state.

Digital engagement of the candidates for mayor of Fortaleza, Recife and Salvador
Analysis date: October 15 to November 04

The polarization persisted in the capitals of the Northeast region, although in Fortaleza, the main aggregator of interactions about economic discussions was Celio Studart, who focused mostly on environmental preservation issues. The candidate associated the fight against Covid-19 directly with local economic recovery, criticizing social agglomerations and inefficient actions to reduce the pandemic and to resume business. In Salvador, Bruno Reis was widely featured on Instagram, with a significant approach to investments in logistics, urban structure and expansion of public financing and emphasizing job creation in the city – the candidate has a municipalized view on economic policy unlike other candidates, not only in the capital of Bahia but in other cities.

In Recife, the clash between João Campos and Marília Arraes was reproduced in the fight for impact on the two platforms, with Delegada Patrícia strongly present on Facebook when addressing the economic agenda. The right-wing candidate also highlighted the fight against corruption and the misuse of public funds, promising to audit the city budget, support small entrepreneurs and reproduce federal government policies to support the capital of Pernambuco. Meanwhile, on the left-wing, Marília Arraes emphasized informal labor and the recovery of the populations purchasing power, especially in the suburbs; João Campos had a broader position, promising to provide better social protection services and to mitigate the negative effects of the pandemic for income generation in the city.