#Brazil on strike: study analyzes movement to support general stoppages on social networks

Mentions related to the general strike on Twitter surpassed the mark of 1.1 million, representing the largest opposition action to the Temer government in one year

3 anos ago by Thomas Traumann, Amaro Grassi, Danilo Carvalho da Silva, Lucas Calil

•General Strike is a global tendency with 1.1 million mentions;

•Volume is higher than the largest protests in favor of impeachment during 2015 and 2016;

•‘Reforms’ and ‘rights’ are the most mentioned themes;

•João Doria and Jair Bolsonaro appear once again as the leading actors among the Blues. Lula remains the principal leader of the Reds.

The movement in support of a general strike on the social networks was the largest act of opposition to the Temer administration in a year. More than 1.1 million mentions related to the general strike were made on Twitter. The volume made the event the biggest – on the web – in recent years, even surpassing the largest acts in favor of impeachment in March 2015 and March 2016. For the purposes of comparison, the vote for the opening of the impeachment process of President Dilma Rousseff, in April last year, resulted in 1.5 million mentions.

The dimension of the general strike movement, whose main hashtag was #BrazilonStrike, thus represents the most critical moment for the Michel Temer administration since its beginning. In the wake of the passing of Labor Law Reform in the Chamber of Deputies and the advance of Pension Reform, for the first time a movement of a similar size to those verified in recent years has been successful.

The figure below shows the development of mentions of protests at six moments: the first four during the Dilma administration, and the final two under Temer (December 2016 and this Friday, 28 April). Mentions on the day of the events show the dimension acquired at each moment. It is thus possible to affirm that the general strike inaugurated a new moment in the political dispute, when the opposition to the government acquired similar proportions on the web to the movement which started in 2015 and culminated with the removal of Dilma.

The hashtag #BrazilonStrike dominated the movement in favor of a general strike, with 326,000 mentions by 5pm, and a peak of 520 tweets per minute around noon. At the end of the afternoon, the response hashtag #TheStrikeFlopped became a `trending topic,’ with 28,000 mentions by 5pm – reaching an average of 600 tweets per minute at 16.40.

The interactions map for the debate about the protests shows the moment of the ‘offensive’ of the opposition to the Temer administration, which led the discussions during the day, and the ‘defensive’ and reactive position adopted by profiles traditionally favorable to the government. The debate completely lacks ‘mediators,’ a field formed in general by media profiles, but who appeared marginalized in this debate.

Interactions map for the Protests (12am – 12pm)

Among the Reds, Mídia Ninja was the outstanding vehicle, followed by Leandra Leal, Xico Sá, Dilma Bolada, and Jornalistas Livres. Among the Blues, the outstanding profiles during the day were Blog do Pim and Joaquin Voltou.

Influencers related to the Protests (12am – 12pm)

Protest Agenda

The list of the most frequent terms in mentions related to protests reinforced the contents of these acts, concentrated in opposition to the – labor law and pension – reforms and the loss of ‘rights,’ a summary of the narrative mobilized by the opposition to the Temer administration.

Mentions of themes related to the protests (Twitter – 12am – 12pm)

Most mentioned actors

Among the most mentioned actors were President Michel Temer, followed by Deputy Jair Bolsonaro, former president Lula, and the Mayor of São Paulo, João Doria. Bolsonaro and Doria once again appear as the actors who capitalized the moment among the Blues. Among the Reds, Lula continues to be the principal leader, far ahead of Ciro Gomes, for example.

Mentions to actors related to the protests (Twitter – 12am – 12pm)


A year after the beginning of the Temer Administration, the forces for and against impeachment continue to dominate discussions on the web. During the second Dilma administration, we saw an exponential growth of the so-called Blues, as the defenders of the removal of the president are conventionally called. The so-called Reds (in favor of Dilma and Lula) were harassed for months by the investigations of the Operation Car Wash (Lava Jato, in Portuguese) task force and the 2015 recession. Mobilization for the general strike resulted in an inflection in the relationship between the Blues and Reds.

The first factor was observed in the study “Fachin’s List,” in which FGV/DAPP showed how the release of the plea bargains of executives and former executives from Odebrecht dumped all politicians in a common grave. The inclusion of names such as that of Senator Aécio Neves in these plea bargains removed primacy in anti-corruption discourse from the Blues.

A second factor which led to a re-equilibrium of forces on the web was the voting on the Pension and Labor Law reform bills. The Reds won the communications war by related these proposals with the loss of rights. Disorganized, the Blues have yet not proved capable of demonstrating the advantages of the two proposals for society.

Also noteworthy is that the main Blue protagonist at the moment has been the mayor of São Paulo, João Doria. With President Temer staying silent and his ministers adopting timid positions, Doria consolidated his position as the principal spokesperson opposed to the general strike, whether by offering Uber to government workers, or calling strikers ‘bums’ on a radio interview.


Marco Aurelio Ruediger

Thomas Traumann

Amaro Grassi
Danilo Carvalho
Humberto Ferreira
Lucas Calil

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