The Rhetoric of Political Leadership
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The Rhetoric of Political Leadership

Logic and Emotion in Public Discourse

Edited by Ofer Feldman

This timely book details the theoretical and practical elements of political rhetoric and their effects on the interactions between politicians and the public. Expert contributors explore the issues associated with political rhetoric from a range of disciplinary perspectives, including political science, linguistics, social psychology and communication studies. Chapters examine what makes a speech effective, politicians’ use of moral appeals in political advertising, political attacks on social media, and gender and emotion in political discourse.
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Chapter 12: Emotion, reason, and political attacks on Facebook: the use of rhetorical appeals in the 2014 Brazilian presidential race

Ícaro Joathan and Francisco Pauloa Jamil Marques


This chapter analyzes how Facebook worked as an environment for negative campaigning in the 2014 Brazilian presidential elections. More specifically, we investigate the Facebook posts published by the two leading candidates – Dilma Rousseff (Workers’ Party) and Aécio Neves (Brazilian Social Democracy Party) – in order to answer the following questions: (1) What were the most common rhetorical appeals used by the candidates during the dispute? (2) How did the use of these appeals vary throughout the dispute? (3) How may the attacks have influenced voters’ perception of the candidates considering the results of the opinion polls? The results indicate that Rousseff and Neves preferred to use emotional appeals in their publications. Moreover, Neves may have been a victim of the so-called “boomerang effect” – especially in the second round, when he faced a decrease in his voting intentions after deciding to sponsor more negative ads on Facebook.

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