Opposition encourages inquiry on the events of January 8 and accuses Lula of corruption and bribery, while left ignores debate
Updated 5 de April, 2023 at 11:38 am
- Opposition argues that establishing an inquiry will show the “true” responsible for January 8, and see the government’s movements against the inquiry commission as an admission of guilt;
- In an opposite movement, the left has ignored this debate and focused on publishing stories blaming the police and right-wing groups for the anti-democratic acts;
- On Facebook, the most shared links about the topic also showed a protagonism of the opposition, with a predominance of independent outlets aligned with Bolsonaro;
- Attempts of bribery and the so-called “Mensalão 2.0” drove the debate on Telegram, which was also marked by the protagonism of the opposition;
Demands for establishing an inquiry commission called a CPMI (Comissão Parlamentar Mista de Inquérito) to investigate the January 8 acts in Brasília have mobilized part of the opposition against the Lula administration, with strong attempts to undermine the president’s image. In turn, the left has been virtually absent from the discussion, which could indicate an intentional omission strategy to avoid increasing the repercussion of the topic on the platforms. Those are the findings of a survey by the School of Communication at FGV, which analyzed the repercussion of the topic from March 10 to 16 on Twitter, Facebook and Telegram.
On Twitter, the discussion was centered mostly on groups aligned with the right and with former president Jair Bolsonaro in general. These profile groups are formed mostly by opposition congressional representatives, influencers and other conservative profiles. With a low presence in the debate, there were progressive leaders and media pages commenting on news regarding the progress of the investigations related to the events of January 8, while avoiding mentioning the inquiry commission. The posts indicate an effort by the opposition to transform the issue into a political matter against President Lula and blame him for the vandalism acts, strengthening the narrative that the violence was caused by infiltrated agents and that Lula and Minister Flávio Dino had allegedly been advised and chose not to act. In turn, the progressive sectors have been unusually absent from the debate, which could be seen as a strategy to avoid expanding the discussion on the platforms.
On Facebook, the majority of the most shared links on the topic came from right-wing websites aligned with former president Bolsonaro. With the withdrawal of signatures by congressional representatives to open the inquiry commission, there are suggestions of an alleged attempt to prevent the establishment of the commission by the current government, which is illustrated by news claiming that Lula is distributing second-rank positions for center parties. In turn, Telegram groups have shown the same tone, speaking of deliberate “bribery” by the president and an alleged “Mensalão 2.0”.
Map of interactions about the inquiry on Twitter
Period: March 10 to 16
Source: Twitter | Elaborated by: School of Communication, Media and Information at FGV
Opposition representatives (Blue) – 28.1% of profiles | 34.8% of interactions
The largest group in the debate was formed by congressional representatives opposing the Lula administration. Names like @andrefernm, @EduGiraoOficial, @rogeriosmarinho, @delegadoramagem, @FlavioBolsonaro, @carlosjordy and @Zambelli2210 defended the inquiry commission and helped the attempt to establish it. In this discussion, the highlight was the negative characterization of actions attributed to the government to stop the commission through “buying” representatives, accusing Lula of corruption. The movements by the Federal Government were framed as an indication of desperation and evidence of the commission’s importance. The low number of signatures withdrawn also strengthened the characterization that the government has allegedly “failed” in their efforts. On the background, the representatives sought to demand that @rodrigopacheco read the motion to establish the commission. In a secondary way, the support groups in this political field were also part of the group in association with politicians and by engaging in the demands.
Opposition profiles (Turquoise) – 16.5% of profiles | 18.2% of interactions
The users@ATROMBETA3, @Jakelyneloiola_ and @crisdemarchii stood out in this group of profiles mobilized by the criticism of actions attributed to the Lula administration to stop the inquiry commission and to the congressional representatives who withdrew signatures from the motion to establish the commission. Small- and medium-sized conservative influencers associated the government’s actions with an attempt to hide the true events of January 8 and with an alleged “treason” or “sale” of “corrupt” congressional representatives. The mobilization also involved the sharing of news stories by right-wing media outlets, as well as the exposition of reporits about the critical situation of the “political prisoners” and “patriots” accused for the acts of January 8.
Right-wing media (Light Blue) – 13.0% of profiles | 14.5% of interactions
Focusing on sharing news related to the process to establish the commission, this group was comprised of right-wing media outlets with a secondary participation of other relevant actors in this political field, who also shared associated news. The addition or withdrawal of signatures, the alleged movements by the Federal Government, and the statements of political actors such as Rodrigo Pacheco (PSD-MG) and Humberto Costa (PT-PE) stood out in posts made by profiles such as @brom_elisa, @revistaoeste, @terrabrasilnot, @jornaldacidadeo and @jovempannews.
Opposition influencers (Purple) – 7.8% of profiles | 6.7% of interactions
A subgroup of profiles that also defended the establishment of the inquiry commission, focusing on comments claiming that the representatives who withdrew their signatures “gave in” to Lula’s “pressure”, “bribery” and “intimidation”. Relevant political actors in the opposition field and large influencers stood out in this group, especially @CamargoDireita, @leandroruschel and @jouberth19.
Conspiratory profiles (Dark green) – 7.1% of profiles | 6.9% of interactions
Group formed by right-wing profiles with a conspiratory tone, defending that the inquiry commission will prove that Lula is accountable for the January 8 anti-democratic acts, which is why he is afraid of the inquiry. Claiming that “the truth will prevail”, the group denounced an alleged threat made by Federal Government to the congressional representatives who withdrew their signature from the motion, involving not paying parliamentary amendments. The profiles also mentioned the “patriots wrongfully arrested”, and said it is important to identify the “infiltrated” and release the “patriots” from this “corrupt system”.
Progressive leaders and media outlets (Orange) – 5.8% of profiles | 3.5% of interactions
Group formed by progressive leaders and by profiles of media outlets, commenting on news stories about people detained on January 8 and police officers, which indicate that the acts of vandalism were organized and that the police was conniving. While the media outlets adopted a more impartial tone, progressive leaders such as @GuilhermeBoulos, @IvanValente and @lazarorosa25 ignored the opposition’s narrative claiming that Lula is afraid of the inquiry and focused on indicating how the investigations already in progress have demonstrated an articulation for the anti-democratic acts, as well as commenting on the ongoing inquiry at the Federal District investigating the case.
Conservative right wing (Green) – 4.8% of profiles | 3.5% of interactions
Group formed by conservative profiles emphasizing the image of the congressional representatives who withdrew their signatures from the motion for establishing the inquiry, calling them traitors. Senator Rodrigo Pacheco was also targeted, in particular by the influencer @AnaPaulaVolei and by @VlogdoLisboa.
Nationalist conservative right wing (Yellow) – 4.8% of profiles | 4.0% of interactions
Similar to the group above, this group is formed by conservative profiles who denounced the actions of Senator Rodrigo Pacheco, stating that he is acting to prevent the establishment of the inquiry. The group also criticized and listed congressional representatives who withdrew their signatures from the motion.
Major links in the debate about the inquiry on Facebook
Period: March 10 to 16
Source: Facebook | Elaborated by: School of Communication, Media and Information at FGV
- There is an almost complete predominance of links coming from right-wing news websites in relation to the debate about the inquiry commission, particularly from outlets aligned with former president Jair Bolsonaro. The independent media websites Jornal da Cidade Online, Revista Oeste and Vista Pátria stood out, as well as outlets with a more evident liberal alignment such as Jovem Pan News and O Antagonista. In a secondary and more general way, outlets such as UOL, CNN Brasil and R7 commented on the case;
- The general tone used by outlets supporting the former president is that the current administration is allegedly articulating itself to “boycott” the inquiry commission. The link with the most repercussion was published by Jornal da Cidade Online and stated that Bolsonaro supporters were once again camping near military headquarters as a way to pressure for the establishment of the inquiry;
- Another highlight were links suggesting that the president of the Senate, Rodrigo Pacheco, is helping prevent the establishment of the inquiry commission. A request for the establishment of the inquiry commission filed by Senator Soraya Thronicke (União Brasil-MS), which allegedly gathered signatures of senators from the previous legislature, was rejected. This week, Thronicke made a new request with the Supreme Court to establish the commission, claiming to have new signatures from the current legislature;
- The allegation that Lula has been distributing second-rank positions in the government in an attempt to prevent the inquiry circulated in links by Revista Oeste and TV Bolsonaro Presidente. The outlets claimed that the President is favoring center parties in order to obtain the support of congressional representatives to prevent the development of the inquiry commission. In general, the links suggest Lula is afraid of the potential ramifications of the inquiry.
Messages related to the debate on the inquiry on Telegram
Period: March 10 to 16
Source: Telegram | Elaborated by: School of Communication, Media and Information at FGV
- Attempts to undermine the image of the Federal Government with the so-called January 8 inquiry commission marked the debate on Telegram. Mentioning an alleged “Mensalão 2.0”, the groups turned focused mostly on criticizing President Lula, who was accused of bribing congress representatives not to sign the motion for establishing the commission. The situation could have repercussions beyond the inquiry commission, as it seeks to sow distrust around a corruption scheme involving the federal government and elected representatives;
- In this context, congressional representatives who changed their minds regarding the inquiry commission and gave up their support for it were also criticized. Focusing on names such as Detinha (PL-MA), Max Lemos (Pros-RJ) and Josimar Maranhãozinho (PL-MA), the groups suggested a “betrayal” by representatives from the base allied with Bolsonaro. The alleged betrayal could inflame a common feeling of aversion to politics, as if all representatives were corrupt;
- It should be said that the demand for an inquiry commission to investigate the January 8 protests is strongly linked to conspiracy theories, which blame the federal government and the police for the acts of vandalism in Brasília, mentioning an alleged “fear” of the commission. However, these narratives circulate in a very isolated way on the platform, mobilizing the same actors and groups.