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Brazil | Clicktivism and the Impeachment Question


It is being reported widely here in  Brazil that turnout for this past weekend’s pro-impeachment demonstrations was markedly lower — by  200% or more in the most visible of urban congregations — than that of the March impeachment rallies, themselves inflated by fancy  camera angles from news photographers.

Some 500 marchers turned out to call for the downfall of the Rousas much asseff government in Salvador, Bahia, for example — an electoral redoubt of the Workers Party since the defeat of Carlismo — a sort of regional Brazilian version of Mexico’s PRI — in recent elections.

The Radar column of Veja magazine suggests that this lack of activism be weighed against what is treated as a significant volume of supporting «clicktivist» chatter on «the social networks» …

But beware the clicktivist fallacy: the notion that computer and network users represent a segment of the population proportional to support for a given proposition.

Factor in the digital divide, in other words.

For example, if 52% of the population uses the Internet, including mobile Internet — 103 million Brazilians — and 48% does not, how representative are half a million Internauts discussing impeachment for good or ill?

Between December 2 and December 9, the week following the acceptance of the bill of impeachment against president Dilma Rousseff [by the president of the Chamber of Deputies], 49.3% of spontaneous mentions of the topic on the social networks were favorable to impeachment, while 31.7% were opposed to it.

Which social networks?

Define «spontaneous».

The study was conducted using the digital monitoring platform Torabit and was based on 485,538 spontaneous mentions of «impeachment» on the networks.

Again, define «spontaneous». How do you weed out the click farmers?

Another 19% of posts did not manifest an opinion on the subject.

Of the impeachment-themed posts, 55.6% reflected negatively on the president, 34.1% were positive and 10.3% were neutral in tone. The difference in percentage indicates that the universe of persons who oppose the government is larger than that which supports impeachment.

As to the origins of the posts, 42.9% were purely opinionated, without links to news items. Another 37.6% linked to news or editorials on a news site or portal. Links to bloggers, most of whom were purely opinionated, accounted for 9.5% of mentions of the topic.

The Vem Pra Rua Brasil Facebook page, on the other hand, did register 770,000 liker, although a cross link to a .net address is blocked by Facebook as potentially malignant and a related.org page is under construction.

Cuts to the Bolsa Família program: trump card of the Workers Party

On an unrelated (?) topic, the National Front of Mayors rallies against R$ 10 billion in cuts to a key social subsidy program …

A Frente Nacional de Prefeitos recorreu nesta segunda-feira ao relator do Orçamento, Ricardo Barros (PP-PR), em última tentativa de demovê-lo dos cortes previstos em 10 bilhões de reais no Bolsa Família.

Em documento assinado pelo presidente da entidade, Marcio Lacerda (PSB), de Belo Horizonte, e pelo vice-presidente da Cidades com Alta Vulnerabilidade, Sérgio Ribeiro (PT), de Carapicuíba, a FNP demonstra preocupação com a redução no programa e faz um apelo para que o deputado reconsidere sua decisão.

A expectativa é que o texto do relator seja votado às 17h na Comissão Mista de Orçamento.

No entendimento dos prefeitos, dois efeitos serão imediatos nas cidades mais pobres: o ressurgimento das filas por cestas básicas e o aumento na demanda por programas de assistência social.