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07 May

Government support group still dominates the digital debate in the first week of the Covid inquiry; however, opposition shows more engagement among congress representatives

The Covid Parliamentary Inquiry Committee

Updated 24 de May, 2021 at 9:58 am

  • Most of the debate is divided between denying Mandetta’s statements and using them to support accusations against Bolsonaro;
  • Although it has the majority of profiles, the opposition group does not show a high level of activity In turn, the government support group represents almost 70% of the interactions;
  • On Facebook, congress representatives of the opposition stand out among those publishing the most about the topic; pro-government representatives lead in interactions;
  • Despite their lower level of mobilization, the groups with no partisan alignment engaged in the debate to lament deaths and demand action from the government.

Evolution of mentions to the Covid inquiry on Twitter
Period: Abril 27 at noon until May 5 at noon, 2021

Source: Twitter | Elaborated by: FGV DAPP

From April 27 at noon until May 5 at noon, a survey by the Department of Public Policy Analysis at Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV DAPP) identified 2.72 million mentions to the Covid inquiry (“CPI da Covid”) on Twitter. The debate increase its repercussion last Tuesday (05.04), adding up to 572 thousand posts, due to the testimony of the former minister of Health Henrique Mandetta to the committee in the morning, which presented controversial information regarding decisions and actions taken by the federal government in the management of the pandemic. The most mentioned actors in the debate are President Jair Bolsonaro (no party), with 1.09 million mentions; the senator Renan Calheiros (MDB-AL), rapporteur for the CPI, with 385.5 thousand mentions; and the former ministers of Health, Henrique Mandetta, who presented his testimony to the committee on Tuesday (05.04), and Eduardo Pazuello, who postponed his testimony to the senators. They were the topic of 364.5 thousand and 106 thousand posts, respectively.

Major actors in the debate about the Covid inquiry on Twitter
Period: Abril 27 at noon until May 5 at noon, 2021

Map of interactions in the debate about the Covid inquiry on Twitter
Period: Abril 27 at noon until May 5 at noon, 2021

Source: Twitter | Elaborated by: FGV DAPP

Blue – 41% of profiles | 66.1% of interactions
Group formed by right-wing politicians, bloggers and influencers belonging to the government support group, which participated the most in the debate by publishing and sharing photos and videos of the demonstrations on Saturday (01) to support the federal government in several Brazilian cities. Many posts contested the participation of senator Renan Calheiros (MDL-AL) in the Covid inquiry, since he has been the target of corruption investigations and is the father of the governor of Alagoas, Renan Filho (MDB-AL), who could be investigated by the committee. Some profiles also tried to deny statements made by the former minister of Health Henrique Mandetta during his testimony at the Senate on Tuesday (04) which could compromise the government’s image in the fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Red – 36% of profiles | 26.4% of interactions
Group centered around left-wing and center-left politicians as well as alternative media channels and influencers who oppose the federal government, mobilizing criticism against President Jair Bolsonaro (no party) based on statements made by the former minister of Health Henrique Mandetta during his testimony to the CPI (05.04). The highlights include the government’s refusal to anticipate the purchase of Covid-19 immunizers and alleged attempts to formalize the indication for Covid treatment in the package insert for chloroquine. The posts reinforced the importance of the inquiry committee and mocked the panic shown by those targeted by the investigation, insisting on blaming Bolsonaro for the increase in the Covid-19 death toll.

Pink – 7.4% of profiles | 2.8% of interactions
Group agitated by digital influencers with no partisan alignment showing indignation about the more than 400 thousand Covid-19 deaths in brazil, attributing that number to the supposed negligence of the federal government in the fight against the pandemic. Most of the posts include the terms “genocide” and “murderer” to refer to President Jair Bolsonaro (no party).

Lilac – 5.1% of profiles | 1.8% of interactions
Group composed of journalists, political activists and digital influencers, who lamented the Covid-19 deaths in Brazil and criticized the inaction of governors regarding the advancement of the disease in the country, highlighting the slow vaccination campaign and the lack of commitment by the population to fight the pandemic. The posts echoed the criticism against the government and called users in the platform to inform themselves and take a political stance in order to avoid tragedies such as the current health crisis.

Orange – 3.3% of profiles | 1.2% of interactions
Group formed by journalists, right-wing politicians and ordinary profiles, presenting different positions regarding both the criticism and the support for the Covid inquiry. Some posts defended the federal government and stated that President Jair Bolsonaro sent federal resources to mayors and governors; other posts pointed out the president’s negligence regarding the purchase of vaccines, his negationist attitude of “disdaining” the use of masks and social distancing, his frequent changes of ministers of Health, as well as the death toll in Brazil, mentioning the actor and comedian Paulo Gustavo. Another highlight was the testimony presented by the former minister of Health, Henrique Mandetta, emphasizing his commitment to fight the pandemic and considering his a potential presidential candidate for the 2022 elections.

The debate on Facebook

We analyzed publications about the Covid inquiry made on Facebook by the profiles of 594 congress representatives (513 congressmen and 81 senators) who are currently serving a mandate. There were 2,011 publications about the topic made by 335 profiles of congress representatives in the period analyzed.

The publications had 5.5 million interactions. Out of those, 538.8 thousand were reactions, and the most common ones were love (36.0%) and anger (27.3%). In addition, 626 publications contained videos, which reached 12.6 million views.

15 congress representatives with the most publications about the Covid inquiry
Period: Abril 27 at noon until May 5 at noon, 2021

Source: Facebook | Elaborated by: FGV DAPP

Among the congress representatives with the highest number of publications about the Covid inquiry, the highlight was the large presence of left-wing and center-left parties such as PT, PCdoB, PSOL and Rede. In Jair Bolsonaro’s support group in the Congress, only the congressman Bibo Nunes (PSL-RS) was among the 15 with the most publications. Despite the leadership role of senator Humberto Costa, the majority of representatives in the list are congressman.

The scenario is inverted among the representatives with the most engagement, with a large predominance of representatives aligned with the federal government. The congresswoman Carla Zambelli stood out as the representative with the highest capacity to mobilize the topic, with a large difference compared to the other representatives. Out of the 15 representatives with the highest number of interactions in their publications, nine are in the government support group, five are opposition, and one, Álvaro Dias, has a more flexible stance depending on the context. Lastly, similar to the graph showing the activity of congress representatives, members of the Chamber of Deputies are a majority in the ranking, with 12 of the top 15.

15 congress representatives with the most engagement in posts about the Covid inquiry
Period: Abril 27 at noon until May 5 at noon, 2021

Source: Facebook | Elaborated by: FGV DAPP