22 Jun

Gustavo Petro’s victory stirs the left and worries Bolsonaro’s supporters

Updated 20 de July, 2023 at 8:47 pm

  • The left wing celebrated the advance of leftist governments in Latin America and drew parallels with a possible victory for former president Lula in October;
  • A group linked to the government showed concern about the outcome of the election, calling Petro a narco-guerrilla member, and called themselves the resistance to communism in Latin America;
  • Despite the record attendance in the Colombian election, users associated with the right wing raised suspicions of electoral fraud due to the number of abstentions;

The victory of leftist candidate Gustavo Petro in Colombia’s presidential elections has shaken the political fields involved in the 2022 Brazilian presidential race. Between June 18 and 20, approximately 264.7 million posts in Portuguese about the election were identified on Twitter, according to a survey by the Department of Public Policy Analysis at Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV DAPP). After left-wing and center-left victories in Costa Rica (2018), Mexico (2018), Panama (2019), Argentina (2019), Bolivia (2020) and Ecuador (2021), Gustavo Petro’s triumph in Colombia was seen as an important signal for the 2022 elections in Brazil, with great celebration among leftist profiles and concern among government allies.

The right-wing group obtained more than half of the interactions on the topic. The profiles drew several parallels between the Colombian election and the Brazilian election, highlighting the need to mobilize voters who think about voting blank or abstaining. Petro’s trajectory in the armed struggle was also remembered, as well as theories related to the São Paulo Forum.

Left-wing groups accounted for 51.1% of the profiles in the debate. The profiles celebrated Petro’s victory and the advance of leftist governments in Latin America, alluding to the Brazilian elections and the possible victory of former president Lula. In addition, President Bolsonaro was criticized by users, who mentioned the speech made by candidate Rodolfo Hernández accepting electoral defeat, provoking the president for raising suspicion about the electoral process.

Evolution of the debate in Portuguese on Twitter about the Colombian elections
Period: June 18 to 20, 2022

Source: Twitter | Elaborated by: FGV DAPP

The greatest mobilization around the Colombian elections on the platform happened on the night of June 19 ‒ with 86,700 posts ‒, during the vote counting and announcement of the election results. Among the major hashtags are mentions celebrating Gustavo Petro’s victory, such as #vivacolômbia and #petropresidente. Another important hashtag was #lulanoprimeiroturno (“Lula in the first round”), demonstrating the enthusiasm of PT supporters regarding the series of leftist victories in Latin American countries.

Map of interactions in the debate about the Colombian elections on Twitter
Period: June 18 to 20, 2022

Source: Twitter | Elaborated by: FGV DAPP

Government – 39.30% of profiles | 50.40% of interactions
Group composed of right-wing political influencers and leaders linked to the government of Jair Bolsonaro. The group regretted Petro’s election, saying the country will become similar to Venezuela in a few years and calling the elected president a far-left, narco-guerrilla and a terrorist. Users also said that Brazil is the resistance against communism and the São Paulo Forum in Latin America, and that Brazil must be protected from the left in the October elections. The group also highlighted the high number of abstentions to raise suspicions of fraud in the electoral process.

Left wing – 24.00% of profiles | 26.20% of interactions
Group composed of journalists, influencers and users associated with the progressive field. The users celebrated the left-wing victory in Colombia, recalled the country’s history of political violence and inequality, and highlighted the unprecedented nature of Gustavo Petro and Francia Márquez’s election – the first black woman in the country’s vice presidency. The group also commented on Rodolfo Hernández’s statement acknowledging defeat and recalled Bolsonaro’s statements casting suspicion on the Brazilian elections, hoping that the Brazilian president would “learn” from Hernández.

Left wing leaders – 15.80% of profiles | 10.70% of interactions
Group composed of political leaders and influencers related to former president Lula (@LulaOficial) and the Colombian president-elect, Gustavo Petro (@petrogustavo). The posts congratulated Petro and celebrated the election of a left-wing president in the country. The group also mentioned the Brazilian elections and the possible victory of Lula, stating that “in October it will be Brazil’s turn”, and celebrating the advance of the left in Latin America.

Pro-Petro influencers ‒ 6.60% of profiles | 4.50% of interactions
Composed of left-wing influencers, the group celebrated the electoral result in Colombia, especially the presence of a black woman on the ticket. Users also mentioned parts of Petro’s speech after the election and criticized the Brazilian press for its coverage of the process.

Pro-Petro viral posts ‒ 4.70% of profiles | 3.00% of interactions
Group composed of profiles of meme profiles, influencers and left-wing artists, who remembered the “Ursal” meme and shared the image of a map of Latin American countries with left-wing governments colored in red to celebrate the advance of the left in Latin America. Users highlighted the importance of this result for leftist agendas and celebrated the “defeat of fascism”.

Major tweets in the debate about the Colombian elections on Twitter
Period: June 18 to 20, 2022

Source: Twitter | Elaborated by: FGV DAPP