21 Jan

Trump’s departure increases pressure on a new arrangement of the Brazilian foreign policy

Updated 11 de February, 2021 at 3:42 pm

  • Brazil’s alignment with former president Trump has been considered by critics to be related to tensions towards India and China to release vaccine materials;
  • Profiles aligned with the government sought to minimize the impact of the presidential transition, mentioning the Brazilian president’s greeting of Biden;
  • The participation of singers Lady Gaga and Katy Perry during the inauguration ceremony mobilized a part of the debate about the American transition in Brazil.

Joe Biden’s inauguration as President of the USA mobilized approximately 465.3 thousand posts on Twitter in Brazil between Tuesday (19) and Thursday (21) at midday, according to a study by FGV DAPP. The debate rekindled the polarization between the political fields in the Brazilian context and intensified the discussion about the need to rearrange the relationship between the Brazilian government and the new American administration. The performance of the USA national anthem by singer Lady Gaga at the ceremony on Wednesday (30) afternoon caused a peak of mentions in the debate, with 309.7 thousand tweets on that day.

Evolution of mentions to Biden’s presidential transition on Twitter
Period: from January 14 at midnight until January 21 at midday

Source: Twitter | Elaborated by: FGV DAPP

The map of interactions formed around Biden’s inauguration shows that the largest group (orange) represented 30% of the profiles, mostly influencers, journalists and media outlets, and 31% of the interactions, which mostly favored the Democrat, who is a critic of the Brazilian government, which is sees as aligned with former president Trump. The second largest group represented 22.5% of the profiles and 34% of the interactions. This group is more aligned with the Brazilian government and highlighted Bolsonaro’s greeting of Biden, adopting a critical tone towards the Democrat. The other groups focused on complimenting the artists who performed during the inauguration ceremony, particularly Lady Gaga and Katy Perry.

Map of interactions in the debate about Biden’s transition on Twitter
Period: from January 19 at midnight until January 21 at midday

Source: Twitter | Elaborated by: FGV DAPP

Orange – 29.8% of profiles | 31.4% of interactions
Group formed by journalists, influencers and media outlets, who celebrated Trump’s departure. In addition to commenting on parts of Joe Biden’s discourse and highlighting his first decisions as president, many tweets pointed out that Brazilian foreign policy decisions made in alignment with the Trump administration are currently harming negotiations with China and India for materials for the vaccine against Covid-19. These decisions include the abstention regarding the request by India to abolish vaccine patents in the WTO and the xenophobic posts and statements by high-ranking members of the government against China. Lastly, the profiles commented on Trump’s presidential pardon granted to Steve Bannon and celebrated the inauguration of the first female, black vice-president of the United States, Kamala Harris.

Blue – 22.5% of profiles | 35.4% of interactions
This group was formed by conservative journalists, influencers and bloggers, who commented on the greetings given by the Brazilian president to Joe Biden and criticized the new leader. Their attacks targeted the lack of impartiality in the American press, which is allegedly more forgiving of the Democrat than of his opponent in the elections, as well as the irony that the inauguration ceremony of the “most popular” American president in history needed a strong security apparatus; and the high possibility that Biden’s mandate represents contempt for the American legacy, a threat to the country’s values and even an opportunity for China to have an influence on United States politics.

Pink – 16.9% of profiles | 14.9% of interactions
This group was mobilized by profiles of influencers and entertainment channels, who commented about the artists that performed during Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony. In addition to warm compliments and praise, particularly for the singers Lady Gaga and Katy Perry, the profiles also remembered iconic performances in past inauguration ceremonies.

Lilac – 5.0% of profiles | 3.1% of interactions
This group included profiles of ordinary users and shared memes about the repercussions of Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony in the Brazilian context. Many posts joked about the several attempts made by Donald Trump to suspend the elections in which the Democrat candidate won, in addition to the fact that news stories about the new edition of the Big Brother Brasil have allegedly attracted more attentions than the inauguration event.

Three of the five major hashtags used in the debate about the presidential transition on Twitter referred to the event: #Inigurationday and #inauguration, which were used in 7.4 thousand and 5.1 thousand posts, respectively, and #celebratingamerica, in 4 thousand tweets. On the other hand, attacks on Biden were more frequent and targeted the alleged failure of the ceremony – which was supposedly less popular and authentic than the farewell speech of his predecessor, Donald Trump –, as well as the potentially disastrous consequences of his progressive agenda for the American history and values. Posts sent by Brazilian leaders to Biden also had strong repercussions in the debate. In addition to congratulating the new American head of state, the president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro (no party), and the governor of São Paulo, João Doria (PSDB), defended in their messages the values of democracy and freedom.