04 Aug

Letters for democracy reach Bolsonaro’s support group, which reacts with irony and discredit

Updated 15 de August, 2022 at 11:17 am

  • Interactions between Lula and Janones placed the Avante candidate among the major profiles in the group supporting the PT candidacy
  • Group associated with the third way criticized Lula’s and Bolsonaro’s candidacies for allegedly refusing to participate in debates
  • The decision by the PT-RJ state directorate to break with Marcelo Freixo’s candidacy led to criticism of former president Lula’s party among non-affiliated supporters;
  • Michele’s participation in Bolsonaro’s campaign still prompts comments among older supporters of the president.

The increasing number of relevant figures in the political, economic and academic context who signed the letters for democracy prompted an increase in interactions inside the group supporting Jair Bolsonaro. Those were the findings of a survey by the Department of Public Policy Analysis at Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV DAPP), which identified more than 1.9 million interactions in the profiles of presidential hopefuls Jair Bolsonaro (PL), Lula (PT), Ciro Gomes (PDT), André Janones (Avante) and Simone Tebet (MDB) on Twitter between July 25 and August 2.

The approximation between André Janones and Lula was also a highlight on the networks, placing the Avante candidate among the major profiles in the group supporting the PT. In turn, the highlight in the group associated with the third way was the presidential hopeful Ciro Gomes, who criticized the restrictions placed by Lula and Bolsonaro for participating in debates. The PT was criticized due to its Rio de Janeiro directorate decision to break with Marcelo Freixo’s (PSB) candidacy, after the candidate Alessandro Molon (PSB) launched his official candidacy for the Senate. In the right-wing field, the larger participation of Michelle Bolsonaro in Jair Bolsonaro’s reelection campaign increased the number of mentions to the first lady, but that has not yet reflected on an increase in the campaign’s reach for new audiences.

 

Presidential hopefuls

 

Map of interactions in mentions to presidential hopefuls in the debate about the elections on Twitter
Period: July 25 to August 2

Source: Twitter | Elaborated by: FGV DAPP

Right wing – 45.93% of profiles | 52.72% of interactions
Group formed by political leaders, journalists and influencers associated with President Jair Bolsonaro, who criticized the letters for democracy, particularly through an ironic tweet made by the president saying that he also signed the letter, which had the highest volume of shares within the group. The profiles stated that Bolsonaro will win the elections in the first round and posted a call for an act on September 7 as an example of commitment to democracy. The group also commented about positive statistics and achievements of the government, such as the reduction in fuel prices, the fight against inflation and the reduction in unemployment. The users also criticized former president Lula, remembering reports of corruption and accusing the candidate of lying about being responsible for the transposition of the São Francisco River. The conventions held by the PL and other parties were also remembered, with praise for Michelle Bolsonaro’s participation in the launch event for Bolsonaro’s candidacy.

Left wing – 42.06% of profiles | 32.54% of interactions
Group composed by political leaders, influencers and journalists associated with former president Lula. Lula’s highlights were a mention to a meeting with the vice-president-elect of Colombia and comments directly against Bolsonaro. The presidential hopeful André Janones was also include in this group. He made positive mentions to Lula after interacting with leaders associated with the PT candidate. Lula’s pre-campaign schedule and visits to states were also a highlight in the content posted by him and his supporters. Mentions to Lula’s lead in the electoral polls and comparisons between his and Bolsonaro’s administrations, particularly regarding the price of food and fuels, were also part of the debate inside the group. The former president’s supporters also criticized Ciro Gomes for his statements against Lula and criticized Simone Tebet’s approximation with agribusiness.

Third way ‒ 8.38% of profiles | 13.94% of interactions
Group led by Ciro Gomes and formed by political leaders and journalists, who criticized Bolsonaro’s and Lula’s absence in the first electoral debate. Ciro lamented that the debate was canceled and posted about his interview for GloboNews. The group also commented about Ciro’s political project and experience, comparing his career with the careers of Lula and Bolsonaro and criticizing both opponents. Compliments given to Ciro Gomes by media outlets and interviews were widely discussed by his supporters. The users also mentioned the reasons why they will vote for Ciro and argued that Lula and Bolsonaro represent the same project with small differences.

 

Major tweets inside the groups in the map of interactions
Period: July 25 to August 2

Source: Twitter | Elaborated by: FGV DAPP

 

Word cloud of the debate about the letters for democracy
Period: July 25 to August 02

Source: Twitter | Elaborated by: FGV DAPP

 

  • Supporters of President Jair Bolsonaro received the letters for democracy with criticism and irony. The president tweeted saying that he signed the manifesto for democracy, calling the letter a “manifesto for the democracy of Lula’s friends” and calling those who signed it “shameless and characterless”. That tweet was a major highlight and was shared by users as a way to both support and criticize the president.
  • The president’s supporters also emphasized that the initiative to write one of the letters came from the entrepreneur Josué Gomes, son of José Alencar, Lula’s former vice-president, as a way to delegitimize the mobilization since it was associated with Lula. Other signatories were also used to criticize the manifesto, such as Luciano Huck, João Doria, Rosangelo Moro and bankers, stating that those people are related to PT and want to harm Brazil and Bolsonaro. The signature of the owner of Lojas Renner was also criticized by the users, who proposed a boycott of the store.
  • The Manifesto for Freedom was also circulated by the president’s supporters as a reply to the letters. The users emphasized the number of signatures of the competing manifesto – allegedly surpassing the first version of the letter for the democracy, which they called the PT manifesto – and said it was the true manifesto defending democracy;
  • Among critics of President Jair Bolsonaro, the letter for democracy was posted in a positive light, highlighting the number of signatures and support. The users also condemned the attacks targeting hackers and Bolsonaro’s statements, seeing these episodes and evidence that the letter was a hit against Bolsonaro’s support group;

 

The rift between PT and PSB in Rio de Janeiro

 

The decision by the Rio de Janeiro state directory of PT to break its allegiance with PSB and withdraw their support for Marcelo Freixo’s candidacy prompted criticism of Lula’s party in the progressive field. Those were the findings of a survey by the Department of Public Policy Analysis at Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV DAPP), which analyzed 24.9 thousand tweets between July 25 and August 3.

While the leaders of PT in Rio de Janeiro defended the party’s decision to break the allegiance after PSB announced Alessandro Molon as a candidate for Senate, leaders of other left-wing parties and progressive influencers criticized the decision and declared their support to Molon and Freixo. The highlights were critical comments against André Ceciliano, who was supposed to take on the position for PT in the original agreement, and questions about the possibility of Ceciliano and other leaders of the party to support Caio Castro instead of Marcelo Freixo. In the center-left group, Lula was blamed for manipulating allied parties, and users remembered critical comments made by Ciro Gomes against the PT candidate. This discussion had little repercussion among right-wing influencers, with no participation of political leaders in that field.

Evolution of mentions to the PT/PSB rift in Rio de Janeiro on Twitter
Period: August 2 at midday until August 3 at midday

Source: Twitter | Elaborated by: FGV DAPP

 

  • The debate peaked on August 2 at night, driven by tweets criticizing the decision by PT-RJ to withdraw support for Marcelo Freixo’s candidacy for governor of the state of Rio de Janeiro. The major critics were made by left-wing influencers, journalists and scholars, those opposing Bolsonaro’s administration, and those supporting Ciro Gomes, but there was no internal activity from the PT.
  • Starting from the early morning of August 3, there was an intensification of tweets made by PT activists and members, defending the decision by the party’s state directory in Rio de Janeiro and stating the Alessandro Molon and the PSB did not comply with the previously established agreement;
  • Profiles aligned with the government joined the debate in the morning of August 3 with ironic comments made by influencers, but with no presence of the leaders who usually drive the digital actions in this group.

 

Map of interactions about the PT/PSB rift in Rio de Janeiro on Twitter
Period: August 2 at midday until August 3 at midday

Source: Twitter | Elaborated by: FGV DAPP

 

Left wing aligned with the PT (Red) – 24.99% of profiles | 30.23% of interactions
Group formed mostly by PT leaders in Rio de Janeiro and influencers associated with the party, including @albertocantalic, @JoaozinhoPTRJ and @FernandoHortaOf. The group defended the PT’s decision to break with the PSB, blaming Alessandro Molon for harming Marcelo Freixo’s candidacy for governor and undoing the agreement with the PT. PT members claimed there is an internal dispute inside the PSB between Molon and Freixo and lamented the loss caused by the PT’s withdrawal to Freixo’s candidacy, but defended the viability and maintenance of André Ceciliano’s candidacy. The group also had users aligned with the PT who refused to vote for Ciciliano, arguing that Molon would be a more viable candidate for the left in Rio de Janeiro, opposing the party’s decision for the state.

Left wing not aligned with the PT (Green) – 15.08% of profiles | 17.36% of interactions
Group formed by left-wing influencers and political leaders who are not aligned with the PT and criticized the PT-RJ’s decision to withdraw their support for Marcelo Freixo, seeing it as a mistake by the party and claiming that the PT in Rio has always had postures that harm the political process. The users also emphasized that they will not support André Cecilian for the Senate and suggested that the party should ally with the governor Cláudio Castro, who Marcelo Freixo opposes. Major profiles in this group included @taliriapetrone, @nandonovofront, @lanadeholanda and @tesoureiros.

Progressive influencers (Pink) 13.25% of profiles | 13.72% of interactions
Group formed by progressive influencers and journalists who also criticized the PT-RJ for withdrawing support for Marcelo Freixo’s candidacy, arguing that Alessandro Molon is more likely to win for Senate than André Ceciliano. The group also mentioned other agreements broken between the PT and PSB in the 2022 race and lamented the possibilty of Freixo losing the elections due to the rift with the PT. Major profiles in this group included @felipeneto, @lolaescreva, @guganoblat and @joaocaetanoleite.

Center-left (Orange) – 9.14% of profiles | 9.94% of interactions
Group formed by those supporting Ciro Gomes’s candidacy for president. The group posted links reporting on the decision by the PT-RJ and made tweets accusing Lula of selfishly manipulating allied parties with no concern for the country or defeating Jair Bolsonaro. Past criticisms made by Ciro Gomes of the PT were remembered by his supporters, who accused the party of being a “political dementor”. Major profiles in this group included the pages @APrimeiraVia and @todoscomciro, and the professor @gustavocastanon.

Right wing (Blue) – 8.09% of profiles | 7.13% of interactions
Group formed by influencers aligned with the federal government. In general, the rift in Rio was treated with irony and by claiming that the left-wing is disorganized. However, it is worth noting that the discussion was mentioned by influencers with no governmental positions, such as @taoquei1 and @TonyStarkMeta, and not by right-wing leaders and politicians, as is usual in the debate on Twitter.

Opposition communicators (Lilac) – 5.61% of profiles | 5.58% of interactions
Group formed by journalists, scholars and digital influencers opposing Bolsonaro. Most of the tweets criticized the PT-RJ’s decision to withdraw support for Marcelo Freixo’s candidacy, accusing the party of acting upon a minor difference instead of uniting with other parties in order to defeat Bolsonaro. Major profiles in this group included the journalist @fernandobarros, the scholar @thiamparo and the journalist and activist @delucca.

 

The influence of Michelle Bolsonaro

The larger participation of Michelle Bolsonaro in Jair Bolsonaro’s campaign increased the number of mentions to the first lady, but the repercussion of her statements is still restricted to audiences who already support the president. Those were the findings of a survey by the Department of Public Policy Analysis at Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV DAPP), which identified more than 124.2 thousand mentions to Michelle Bolsonaro on Twitter and 7.6 thousand posts in pages, public groups and verified profiles on Facebook between July 20 and August 1.

Evolution of mentions to Michelle Bolsonaro on Twitter
Period: July 20 to August 01

Source: Twitter | Elaborated by: FGV DAPP

 

  • The peak of mentions to Michelle Bolsonaro was related to a speech she gave in the launch event for Jair Bolsonaro’s candidacy for president on July 24 at the Maracanãzinho. The mentions to the first lady started increasing on the day of the event at peaked on Monday, July 25. After this period, the volume of mentions to her returned to its previous level. A slight increase was observed on August 1, driven by criticism made by Bolsonaro’s allies of a news story by the newspaper O Globo reporting that Michelle invited evangelicals to pray at night in the Palácio do Planalto.
  • The distribution among political groups showed no significant movement indicating a spread of mentions to Michelle among new audiences. Around 90% of the debate about the first lady was distributed among groups that are already established in the public debate and profiles who have declared support for Lula or Bolsonaro.
  • The groups supporting Bolsonaro accounted for 66.8% of the profiles and around 75% of the interactions. This means most of the repercussion of Michelle’s participation is still concentrated among the president’s known supporters, particularly digital influencers, politicians and candidates, such as Tarcísio Gomes de Freitas.
  • Teh group supporting Lula’s candidacy accounted for 23.8% of the profiles and 20.5% of the interactions in this part of the debate. The major tweets criticized Michelle’s speech, claiming the first lady is submissive and remembering the corruption allegations against her during Bolsonaro’s term.

Word cloud of mentions to Michelle Bolsonaro in the electoral debate on Twitter
Period: July 20 to August 01

F

Source: Twitter | Elaborated by: FGV DAPP

 

  • The speech given by the first lady Michelle Bolsonaro at the PL convention had repercussions among the president’s supporters, who commented on her mention of 70 laws he approved to protect women, replying to claims that her husband “does not like women”;
  • The first lady’s speech was praised by supporters, particularly the journalist Augusto Nunes, who said Michelle has “her own light”; the president’s supporters also praised her speech, saying they were proud and that she is a wise woman;
  • The news story published by O Globo stating that Michelle invites evangelicals to pray at the Palácio do Planalto also prompted praise for the first lady and criticism of the newspaper; the coverage of the party’s convention by the media was also criticized by the supporters, who said there was not enough highlight for the event or for Michelle’s speech;
  • Michelle’s relationship with the evangelical church also appeared among the content related to the PL convention. While the president’s supporters praised the first lady and commented on her statement that Bolsonaro was “chosen by God”, the critics pointed out that the State is secular and said Bolsonaro is “the devil’s representative”;
  • The critics of the president stated that he has humiliated Michelle, remembering Bolsonaro’s statements saying her wife talked too much and asked for 5 thousand reais every day, and mentioned the check deposits made by Marcelo Queiroz into the first lady’s account.

 

Major links with mentions to Michelle Bolsonaro on Facebook
Period: July 20 to August 01

Source: Facebook | Elaborated by: FGV DAPP

 

  • The highlights among the links with the most interactions on Facebook included an opinion article published by UOL, criticizing the way the president treats women and questioning Michelle’s ability to convince female electors to vote for his reelection.
  • His messianic and religious tone was highlighted in six of the ten publications with the most interactions.
    Among the most influential domains in the debate, there was a balance between traditional media outlets such as UOL and Poder 360, alternative far-right websites such as Jornal da Cidade Online, and religious portals such as Gospel Mais.