Israel Dutra e Charles Rosa
On Sunday October 2nd, there were local elections all over Brazil. Such elections were marked by elements of the end of PT cycle. On the one hand, the disenchantment of the people with politics and the rise of the PSDB and right sectors; on the other hand, the growth of PSOL as left alternative, multiplying their bench and going to runoff in Rio de Janeiro, in a great battle that is just beginning.
After 13 years of pacts with big capitalists and bankers, PT was dislodged from power through a parliamentary coup. Its main partner, PMDB, abandoned its agreement with Dilma and went to the trenches of the opposition in order to complete the impeachment of the president. After being attacked with an adjustment program, people did not defend Rousseff and PT, beset by huge corruption scandals discovered in megaoperation “Lava Jato”. The association with major contractors and the political caste led to arrest the owners of the main builders of the country as Odebrecht and OAS, as well as important leaders of the PT as José Dirceu, Antonio Palocci and its treasurer, João Vaccari.
In this apathy and disenchantment framework, the economy can not progress with a drop in the purchasing power of working families, increase in unemployment, closure of many jobs in industry and trade. The new illegitimate government of Michel Temer is also directly involved in the revealed corruption in “Lava Jato”, and points to a withdrawal of rights agenda, such as the freezing of the budget for health and education, the labor reform that increases the number of weekly hours worked, and pension reform that increases the minimum age for retirement.
Polls reflected the sense of apathy that fueled the electoral growth of the right and the debacle of PT. The punishment of the electorate to PT is unprecedented. Lula’s party lost 60% of their current governments, just won the capital of Acre (a northern state) and dispute the runoff in Recife. For the first time, the party couldn’t event reach 1 million votes in São Paulo, not winning in any of the 57 precincts of the city. In the region of ABC, industrial cradle of lulism, it is quite likely that PT can’t elect any mayor.
This situation mainly benefited PSDB, the main party of the Brazilian right. Joao Doria, a bourgeois, won in São Paulo in the first round, successfully capping a gamble governor Geraldo Alckmin. “Toucans” (the self-given name of PSDB members) still take another 14 municipalities with over 200,000 inhabitants and dispute the runoff in 19 cities such as Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre, Manaus and Belem. Democrats, the main political PSDB satellite, won in Salvador and compete in three other major cities in the second round.
MBL, a group of young reactionaries who led the movement for impeachment in the big cities, elected eight of its 45 candidates: a town hall in Minas Gerais and 7 councilors in four capitals.
There was also a notable strengthening of candidates and parties linked to evangelical sectors. PRB, an evangelical party, went to runoff in Rio with Marcelo Crivella, a Bishop of Universal Church, and increased by 31% the number of municipalities under its rule.
PMDB, the unpopular Temer party, although it has grown in absolute number of municipalities, will have no city among the 10 most populous cities of the country (if PSDB win in Porto Alegre). If in Rio de Janeiro the women’s striker Pedro Paulo foiled the plans of Eduardo Paes, in Sao Paulo Temer’s candidate Marta Suplicy had a weak performance, reducing PMDB councilors bench for two chairs.
Another highlight of this election was the apathy of citizens in response to the crisis of representation of the political caste: in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte abstentions / null / white exceeded mayoral candidates best voted.
Worth pointing out that the election took place within a proscription frame to the left. The “gag law” – also known as “Cunha Law”, drafted and approved by Eduardo Cunha, the former president of the Lower House impeached by corruption after widespread popular clamor – had a detrimental effect on militant organizations, reducing the time and inserts on the TV to ridiculous 10 seconds or less.
Despite all this, everybody in the country recognize the political victory of PSOL. The party managed to surpass 10% in 5 local capital towns – a fabulous result considering that the big electoral machine of PT did it in 7. Marcelo Freixo is in the second round in Rio de Janeiro, the second largest city in the country, leaving out the PMDB which dominates Rio’s politics for a decade. In Belém (the capital town of the northern state of Pará) and Sorocaba (an important industrial city in São Paulo), Edmilson Rodrigues and Raul Marcelo are in the match against PSDB and DEM, respectively. In Porto Alegre, Luciana Genro got nearly a hundred thousand votes (12% overall), and three councilors of PSOL ere elected: Fernanda Melchionna, Roberto Robaina and Alex Fraga. In the state of Rio Grande do Norte, the small towns of Jacana and Jacuís will have socialist mayors. In Nova Friburgo (state of Rio de Janeiro), by a very small difference, Glauber Braga, a deputy of PSOL, wasn’t elected mayor.
All over Brazil, PSOL elected 53 councilors, a number 10% higher than 2012. In big cities like São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre and Florianópolis, PSOL expanded their stands. In Recife and Belo Horizonte, the party can first reach the municipalities.
Another important fact is that women carried out the positive assessment of the PSOL. Fernanda Melchionna in Porto Alegre, Marinor Brito in Belém, Áurea Carolina in Belo Horizonte and Talíria Petrone in Niterói (a big city in the state of Rio) were the winners of votes among all elected councilors. In São Paulo, Sâmia Bomfim became the youngest councilor of the city’s history. Mariana Conti is the only woman elected in Campinas (an strategic city of Sao Paulo). Fernanda Garcia and Fernanda Miranda are now the councilors of PSOL in Sorocaba and Pelotas (state of Rio Grande do Sul), respectively. It is easy to conclude that the “Feminist Spring” movement had an electoral expression with PSOL.
Amid the wreckage of PT, PSOL has the task of consolidating as the project of a new left. Therefore, it is essential to follow the struggle in all trenches against electoral proscription and resistance against attacks that come from the illegitimate government Temer.
The battle of the second round in Rio de Janeiro will be decisive: all radical democratic sectors will mobilize to fight against caste, represented by Crivella, Bishop of the Universal Church. Marcelo Freixo will head the process of the second “Carioca Spring”, this time stronger and more complete. The Battle of Rio de Janeiro will mobilize activists from all over Brazil for this great victory to face caste and built a fighting trench against the adjustment plans prepared by Temer.
A brief balance of the local elections
Roberto Robaina (member of National Executive Committee of the PSOL/ elected councilman in Porto Alegre)
The most important outcome of the municipal elections was the victory of the right, particularly the PSDB, and a real growth, albeit limited, of the far right. PT is the main responsible for strengthening the right: Lula’s party ruled for 13 years in collaboration with the bourgeoisie and frustrated the expectations of millions of people who were surprised by its rapid moral degeneration and its political capitulation.
Generally speaking, the polls have strengthened the line of Temer government and bourgeois rule. In truth, this bourgeois rule is far from stable, as evidenced by the resounding number of invalid votes, white and abstentions, which in many capitals surpassed that won the first round. Such stability is even more lax if we remember that the government follows no popular support and will not have anything positive to give to the people. Rather, Temer promote attacks on popular interests. It is important to recognize that people, even though it is facing dire straits, is not defeated.
The vote on PSOL was an organized counterpoint to “order and progress” of Temer. The party that more combat corruption in Brazil is emerging as the possibility of building a dynamic alternative for left mass. But even if the PSOL has grown, a fact that energizes it as a possibility, the general advance of the forces of the bourgeois order can not be avoided. The Brazilian left still agonizes over the scandals of PT and CUT that tarnished the red flag in corruption schemes and pro-management unions. The general failure of PT was clear. The Lulism exceeded 10% of the vote in only 7 capitals.
In Porto Alegre, the general rule prevailed and the right was victorious. However, PSOL has also grown and is perhaps the left main reference in Porto Alegre. Our thesis is that PSOL in Porto Alegre emerged victorious in this main strategic goal. We build the best program, with an extremely democratic method of participation, based on the currently most advanced world experience (Madrid and Barcelona). Our candidate Luciana Genro showed a huge preparation and quality, dominating the programmatic issues of a building that she led personally.
Slthough very damaged the gag rule, Luciana Genro had more votes than in 2008, when she also ran for mayor with a TV time 10 times bigger: from 72,000 (9%) in 2008, Luciana got 86,000 (12%) in 2016, leading PSOL to conquer his third seat in the Local House. Luciana Genro stood out with a large and politicized campaign. We have the proud participation of our comrades form MST (Movimiento Socialista de los Trabajadores – Socialist Workers Movement), that came from many parts of Argentina and helped us a lot in this struggle. A great internationalist gesture.
In addition to the overwhelming success of Fernanda Melchionna (the most voted of the House, doubling her votes from 7200 in 2012 to 14600 in 2016) and the re-election of Prof. Alex Fraga (almost tripled its vote from 2012 to 2016), Roberto Robaina (national leader of MES and one of the founders of PSOL) reached his first term with over 8300 votes, appearing among the highest-rated of the city.
We knew that the electoral rules voted in Congress hinder our participation. We knew the rules intended to marginalize PSOL. We think that this would not occur in 2016, in the local elections, but it would be a likely scenario for 2018 and the next election. Essentially, we define that the bourgeoisie would try to prevent the emergence of a new party system of defense, after the failure of PT. The law was passed to ensure that this does not happen.
The new rules come into force already in 2016, establishing a reactionary regime change that began with the exchange of Dilma by Temer. The non-participation of the PSOL of TV debates (formerly a legal obligation) brutally threatened our campaign. Without participation in the debates, we knew it would be impossible to win the elections and even become the main left force in the city. Good placement of Luciana Genro in the early polls, the political articulations, democratic appeals to other parties and the media, the electoral strength of figures like Luciana and Freixo led the Supreme Court to relax the Cunha Law. The electioneering time of PSOL continued rarefied. In most cities, the party candidates were excluded from the TV debates. In most cities, our candidates were excluded from the TV debates. In Porto Alegre, we could guarantee the presence of Luciana in the debates. However, once initiated the campaign, unequal times in the electoral guide overlapped.
Fifth place in the polls may have left a bitter taste in the mouth, but the outcome of our dispute by the city of Porto Alegre should be considered a victory of PSOL. The possibility of winning the elections would only be possible with a low of citizenship upward movement that had the ability to overcome the force of the big party machines, inequality in TV times and even a probable exclusion of the candidate Luciana Genro of TV debates. After we leave first in the early polls, we had the confirmation of Luciana Genro in the debates. With the inequality of resources between the parties, we were decreasing. Luciana Genro had daily 12 seconds and 2 inserts in the week against dozens of minutes and hundreds of inserts of Mello, Marchezan, Mauricio and Raul Pont. The TV showed that still has the power to form opinions and influence elections. Although our candidacy has been recognized as the champion of social networks, PSOL could not take its proposals for a large portion of the population that only informs through the TV.
At this juncture, Melo (PMDB) grew, with television landlordism and government support. The same thing happened to Marchezan (PSDB) oppositionist also benefited from the long time in the election guide and for money. Former Mayor Raul Pont (PT) with time on TV much higher than our time, exceeded slightly in the polls and was favored by the “useful vote” of progressivism against Marchezan in the final stretch.
It is evident that our expectations were for more votes. But in the current circumstances, 86,000 votes (12% of the total) is a massive result. Inequality in the TV weighed more than we imagined. The slander campaign to dehydrate Luciana Genro was even heavier: the reactionaries spread rumors that Luciana would support Nicolas Maduro (which was not successful) and let go all city prisoners at Christmas. Religious delay on issues such as abortion and LGBT rights also contributed to fundamentalist sects had success against Luciana Genro. PT also spread calumnies against PSOL to prevent an electoral movement of their bases towards Luciana Genro.
Anyway, as balance of Porto Alegre our greatest legacy is our almost 90 thousand votes that undoubtedly had much enthusiasm.