Published on 08/11/2021 05:55 / Updated on 08/11/2021 05:56
Bolsonaro speaks to supporters in Perai do Sul (PR), on Saturday, during a motorbike through city streets: a re-election dispute – (Credit: Clauber Cleber Caetano/PR)
With unusual speech and wearing the uniform of a candidate outside the system, against “everything that exists”, the then-Federal Rep. Jair Bolsonaro He did something unusual until then: he won an election with virtually no time on television and without being spurred on by the great and traditional leaders of Brazilian politics. Anti-Party sentiment and “outsider” rhetoric designed for social media gave him the reins of leadership in the elections after the arrest of his main opponent: former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
After two years and 10 months in office, countless institutional crises, scandals, 607,000 deaths due to the pandemic and a very serious economic crisis, sleeping millions of Brazilians, Bolsonaro’s pre-candidate for the 2022 elections is very different from what many called the “phenomenon” before Three years. According to a PoderData poll released last week, 58% of respondents disapprove of their government. Those who agree are 33% with a margin of error of two percentage points.
When it comes to voting intentions, Lula’s return to the race has been extremely detrimental to the president, who appears to be in second place in all polls and lose to practically all candidates in a run-off simulation. Despite the poor performance in the polls, Bolsonaro, during the government’s tenure, cemented his presence on social networks, and the tendency for him to continue betting on this strategy to speak directly to the radicals who support him.
Atualmente, Bolsonaro tem 7,1 milhões de seguidores no Twitter; 14.5 million followers on Facebook; 18.9 million on Instagram; 3.5 million subscribers on its YouTube channel and 1 million followers on Telegram, a WhatsApp-like social network without mechanisms against spreading false news, such as limiting sharing of the same content in text or restricting participants in groups.
If all the networks are added together, the total number of followers will be 45 million. However, the boss’s supporters may be on more than one network, so it is not possible to know the exact total number of unique followers. This number illustrates a power the poll favorite doesn’t have that should make a difference in the campaign. Lula has just over 11 million followers in total, considering the networks themselves.
Andre Eller, deputy director of digital consultancy Bites, notes that in 2018, social networks were the basis of Bolsonaro’s victory and now, with the growth provided by publicity for the presidency, the trend is for him to have a significant advantage in spreading. Its content and access to new audiences, even those who don’t.
“More important than his size has been his ability to keep growing. Creating facts, turning facts into something suitable for him. He has unparalleled size, this can be an advantage. Lula only has about 10 million and he is the strongest candidate. But anyway, he is The volume is large enough for his message to reach a relevant part of the population,” he says.
The expert explains, however, that Bolsonaro will only be able to grow if he can generate facts with a higher level of engagement – that is, more attractive to shares, likes and comments. “He needs a level of tension and polarization and a very high speech temperature, which he can’t always maintain. And in some networks there is really this difficulty in continuing to grow a lot. On Youtube it is exceptional, they dominate the strategies a lot.”
According to Eller, the peak of the president’s engagement occurred in the missile days, such as the stab wound, when he was still a candidate, inauguration day, in 2019, the rhetoric against closing trade as the pandemic arrived and the clash with institutions. like elimination. He explains that what is spurring more interaction on social media is emotional rhetoric and hostile rhetoric – part of Bolsonaro’s coping policy.
Meanwhile, other former candidates are betting on a network-focused strategy to achieve similar results. Ciro Gomes (PDT), for example, has appeared in podcasts and broadcast content with a youth theme, with references to gaming. João Doria (PSDB) has embraced memes and often hits Bolsonaro’s lines on the grids. On the other hand, Guilherme Boulos (PSol) shares content in a language that also targets youth. For Eller, these are “very small initiatives close to the size of Bolsonaro”.
extremism still exists
With so many defeats and the risk of being held accountable for the crime of responsibility, Bolsonaro has been forced to undo his radical behaviour, especially with regard to democracy. However, this does not mean that the president is a more “peace and loving” version of the extremist who was elected in 2018. This explains Claudio Couto, political scientist and coordinator of the Professional Master in Administration and Public Policy (MPGPP) at EAESP-FGV. “I think this troubled government is what can be expected along Bolsonaro’s path. It would be hard to assume anything other than a government like this, being an MP without intellectual consistency, with no respect for democracy. This Bolsonaro government is not that different from a Bolsonaro deputy.”
“Gamers. Unfortunate Twitter teachers. Zombie pioneers. Internet fans. Hardcore thinkers.”