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Bolsonaro’s growth and how to stop him

On Sunday, October 7, the presidential elections consolidated the dispute for the second round between Jair Bolsonaro, with 46% of the votes, and Fernando Haddad, with 29.3%. The surveys carried out since then until now that we are editing this text indicate that Bolsonaro has 59% of the valid votes and Haddad 41%.

The election represented a leap in the national political crisis. A true earthquake that inclined the national election for the extreme right, changing the electoral balance in the parliamentary scope and in the disputes of the state governments.
The great result of Bolsonaro, that seemed like he would win in the first round in some moments of the vote counting; the “emptying” CCC of the parties of the traditional right, whose space was occupied by the group elected by PSL (Party of Bolsonaro) – that will be the second larger of the next legislature. The surprising performance of candidates for governors Romeu Zema (NOVO) in Minas Gerais and Wilson Witzel (PSC) in Rio de Janeiro, Bolsonaro supporters who reached the first place in the dispute for the governments of these states with more than 40% of the votes, are eloquent data of this electoral Tsunami.

At the same time, the results from the Northeast, with its combative and resistant people, show that it is possible to gain time and hope. It was by little, but there will be a new dispute in the second round: there is a struggle yet to come.

The day after the election was marked by a strong polarization. Followers of Bolsonaro resorted to violence to generate fear and to stop the critical movement that has been growing. The cowardly murder of Capoeira master Moa do Katendê in Salvador and the more than 50 occurrences of provocations are a leap in the escalation of violence in the neo-fascist sectors.

Polarization also crosses and divides the country. The Universal Church and all its media apparatus raised the tone against Haddad. On the other hand, the Globo Group, through its journalists and in some of its works, such as the youth novel Malhação, has positioned itself in a critical way to the most extreme positions of the former Captain, apart from denouncing in its news the death of the master of capoeira.

On the side of resistance, important actors also move: assemblies in several universities in the country, and demonstrations like the one that took place in Porto Alegre on the eve of a holiday, with 15 thousand people, indicated the disposition to struggle. In Rio de Janeiro, on Sunday 10/14, an event was organized in Cinelândia. It gathered thousands of people to collect signs in homage to Marielle Franco and spread her example throughout the city.

A great democratic movement has been formed against Bolsonaro with very active spontaneous characteristics. In the two weeks after the first round the country is getting more and more polarized and also politicized. The poor people, the working class, the black movement of the favelas are reacting. They are quickly learning what this proto-fascism means. And whatever the results on Sunday 28 are, this is already an objective feat of the Brazilian society. Similar to what happened in the United States after the triumph of Trump, where a large sector of the population opened their eyes, began a process of politicization, and as opposition to the hard right of Trump made new progressive figures who embraced the flag of the socialism.

This text assesses some reasons why we got to this situation. But this is not its axis; they are just preliminary assessment tools needed in order to refine the fight for the second round. Later we will have, with all the socialist left, the duty of a more careful reflection, facing the scenarios we get after the results of the second round are announced.

We are facing a contradiction or objective inequality that imposes many readjustments to the new left. If on one side there is a right-wing tsunami, on the other, PSOL emerged victorious. It doubled the number of parliamentarians and overcame the restrictive barrier clause with which the bourgeoisie removed numerous parties from the possibility of receiving public fund support and having their propaganda shown on television.

PSOL was placed among the most voted parties in the country for the Congress. However, we can not lose sense of the proportions to act in this battle we are having in the second round. The political struggle requires an understanding of the reasons why the extreme right organized around Bolsonaro could grow. Also, the possibilities that the democratic movement is organized to face and defeat in the polls and on the streets Bolsonaro and his proto-fascist project for the closure of the political regime, the combat against the freedoms and the economic war against the people.We are in a serious moment of struggle in Brazil: it is difficult, but it is possible to win!

The collapse of the New Republic and the reactionary change underway in the political regime;

The ascension of the extreme right, materialized in the Bolsonaro vote and the rise of the party through which he presents himself to the elections (PSL) from 1 to 52 deputies, took place within the framework of an actual political earthquake. The New Republic that emerged from the 1988 constitution is breaking down. The numbers speak for themselves. The main parties of the regime were beaten up. The MDB of Michel Temer was liquidated, going from 66 to 34 deputies. Important figures such as Romero Jucá, (party president) and Eunício Oliveira, (president of the Senate), among others, were not elected. The renewal of the parliament was the biggest since the New Republic began, changing 47.3% in the Congress of Deputies and 87% in the Senate. Of the 32 senators who went to re-election, only 8 managed to do it. Although the number of null votes fell, abstention was high. Almost a third of the voters (27.32%, more than 40 million people) did not vote.

PSDB, which presided over the first two terms of Fernando Henrique Cardozo up to the PT governments, also suffered a punishment. Alckmin, favorite candidate of the traditional sectors of the bourgeoisie, got dehydrated. The party fell from the third largest parliamentary group to the ninth, going from 54 to 29 federal deputies. The day after the elections was marked by a real civil war in that party. Orders for the expulsion of historic leaders such as Alberto Goldman and an exchange of accusations between Dória and Alckmin opened a fierce fight that puts the very existence of the party at risk. Important figures and candidates called for voting for Bolsonaro slyly or openly.

The sense of renewal, of fighting “against everything that is there”, was monopolized by the extreme right, with an association between military candidates, the great landowners and the most fundamentalist wing of the evangelical churches.

There is a reactionary change underway in the regime. Even with the limitations of the 1988 Constitution, voting for PT in the second round also has the meaning of defending its general framework against the attempt to withdraw its most advanced content, taking it to a more authoritarian environment.

PT, PSDB and MDB were the ones who guaranteed the stability of the New Republic in the last decades. Its crises and decline show the dimension of the crisis of the regime and the reorganization of the coordinates of the political dispute from now on. The change of quality of the regime in Brazil imposes for the left the need to reassess its orientation and think about the need for a reorganization. The task of building an anti-capitalist and anti-regime left alternative becomes even more important.

The result of PSOL, that doubled its group in the Congress and in the Assemblies of the States and was able to overcome the barrier clause, points out the enormous responsibility of the party in the defense of the vote in Haddad and Manuela, a commitment that we already made right after 10/07. In front of such a worrisome scenario, the vote of women and black people is a very positive aspect and a point of support in a regressive situation.

Assessment elements of why we got to this situation

To better assess the tsunami that emerged on Sunday, we need to understand on the one hand the reactionary nature of segments of the bourgeoisie and the turn to the right of an important sector of the middle class. This always happens when there is no strong pole or alternative on the left. Which also explains why there was an anti-PT vote in the popular sectors. And here we must consider the great deformation or transformation that PT experienced in power and how its leadership transformed the party into a state apparatus that governed the service of the bourgeoisie, especially the agro-industries, mega builders and bankers. Also in that process its apparatus committed very serious cases of corruption. Political behaviors that meant a felony to his program and the aspirations of the workers and the poor people

The irruption of the town in June 2013 during the government of Dilma was a symptom of the social unrest, that appealed with the mobilization for deep changes. The people came out to the streets, asking for money for health and education instead of the expenses in the useless mega constructions for the Soccer World Cup. Dilma, at the time, even raised timidly a proposal for a referendum for a Constituent to reform the political system, immediately withdrawing it after the threats of Temer and MDB.

The 2014 elections in which Dilma ran for re-election took place in a polarized setting. PT made a populist defense speech threatening even the bankers. But once the election was won, she led a representative of these, Levy, in order to begin an adjustment plan. This larceny and the economic crisis that had already begun during the first government of Dilma, but that had remained partially hidden, were the material bases for the turn to the right that the middle class took in the rallies that we characterized as “Simulacrum” in 2015/16. This wave of protests led by right-wing sectors led the PSDB and the MDB, under the leadership of Cunha, to the parliamentary coup that brought the PT out of power and led to the Temer disaster.

However, in 2017 there was an important reaction of the mass movement; a short conjuncture of resistance against adjustment and corruption. The revelations of the JBS (the largest meat production company in the world) almost led to the fall of Temer. Pension Reform was defeated and there was a strong general strike and a large mobilization that overflowed in Brasilia. In that context, Lula and the main directorates of the union centrals raised a general strike that could have given continuity to this process. They bet on calming the situation, guaranteeing the governance of Temer and taking the fight to the electoral terrain.

From then on, history is known: the capacity for resistance got weakened. Lula was imprisoned. The strike of the truckers was an episode of the liberated social energy, but already very influenced by the Bolsonaro networks and their satellites.

In between those we had the murder of Marielle – a violent demonstration of strength against democratic struggles in general and, in particular, against the struggle of women, of Blackness and of PSOL. A huge loss that transformed Marielle into an icon and symbol for the poor people. She sowed, and many other new Marielles appeared.

The basis for the rise of Bolsonaro is also the absence of a historical rupture with the dictatorship. The negotiated exit allowed the maintenance of the intact military apparatus unlike other neighboring countries in which the military were arrested. This is the reason for the strength that some military barracks still have, the role played by the military police and the existence of militias that cohabit with the Military Police. As Vladimir Safatle wrote, “those are the ghosts that haunt us again”. The tributes of Bolsonaro to the torturer Brilhante Ustra in the impeachment vote leave no room for doubt.

There were many missed opportunities and many capitulations so that in the end the extreme right led by Bolsonaro, always seen as a disgusting buffoon, could be presented as an alternative to an invalid regime, liquidated by the crisis and the action of Lava Jato.

What is behind Bolsonaro?

The strong vote of the PSL candidate in the first turn is concentrated mainly in two sectors of Brazilian society: on the one hand, there are the petty-bourgeoisie and the traditional middle class, which mostly moved to the right in particular during and after the 2015/16 demonstrations; on the other, there is a large and dispersed anti-regime popular vote, marked by indignation with the economic crisis, unemployment, corruption of the main bourgeois parties and PT and by ideological confusion. In general, the most active and militant support to Bolsonaro is concentrated in the first group. There is a second sector that gives a passive and diffuse support, a sector that even went from voting for Lula to Bolsonaro.

The mobilization pro Bolsonaro was strongly marked by the use of social networks, in particular WhatsApp. The attack on Bolsonaro contributed to increase his exposure to traditional media and to “normalize” his figure. At the same time, the support of evangelical churches – in particular the religious, political and media conglomerate of Edir Macedo – broadened the reach of the positions of the PSL candidate.

The prison of Lula, who remained, during the pre-campaign, in the leadership of the polls, helped to confuse popular sectors, which happened to vote in Bolsonaro as a second option given the absence of their first option, the former president. In that sense, it is important to remember that Fernando Haddad leads among voters who earn up to two minimum wages, preserving part of Lula’s base, but loses in all others.

Bolsonaro relies on agribusiness, especially in its most transnationalized sector, linked to foreign trade, and the relationship with global chemical, seed and fertilizer corporations. Gradually, bank executives and national and foreign investment funds start to express support for Bolsonaro’s economic program, coordinated by the billionaire speculator Paulo Guedes, a Chicago boy investment fund manager who worked in close proximity to the ultraliberal economists of the Chilean dictatorship of Pinochet.

Guedes organizes the pro-imperialist program vocalized by Bolsonaro, who has already honored the United States flag and likes to praise Donald Trump. Its foreign policy would tie the Brazilian one, approaching the country of Israel, with the change of the embassy for Jerusalem, and of the South Korea. As revealed in the press, his team is being composed of large executives of financial capital, such as María Sílvia Marques (Goldmam Sachs), Roberto Campos Neto and Sergio Eraldo de Salles Pinto (Bozano Inversiones). The rural leader Nabhan García, is one of the main axes of a future government, defending the project that would let the landowners own guns.

Haddad, Ciro and the alternatives of opposition to the extreme-right

More than a third of the voters who went to the polls put their hope in alternatives of leftist opposition to the Temer government. In addition to the Haddad vote, Ciro received 12.47% of the votes.

The regime’s decision to keep Lula out of the way was important for Bolsonaro’s victory. Lula could still be chosen by the majority of the people. Lula’s prison and the subsequent hindrance of his candidacy was the expression of the farce of the electoral process. A managed process that distorted the popular will. That should also relativize the view that the people went to the extreme right.

In spite of its policy of collaboration with the bourgeoisie that betrayed the historical interests of the proletariat, opposed to bourgeois interests, the PT was able to maintain itself as the largest bench in the Chamber of Deputies. It also won 3 state governments and can earn a fourth one on the second round. By persisting the absence of a global and alternative policy from PSOL, PT tends to lead the opposition in the parliamentary arena in an eventual victory for Bolsonaro.

We are in a difficult situation because it was not possible until now to build a broad democratic electoral front for the second round. The hegemonic line of Lula and the PT made the dialog with those who are against Bolsonaro but do not want to be placed on the spectrum of the PT harder and weaker. The lack of a self-criticism of Lula and the leadership of the PT led Ciro away from a militant effort in the second round, even though he had a broad vote of the democratic sectors.

The performance of the PSOL revalidates it as a strategic project.

The PSOL broke the prescriptive clause of the Cunha law, which established that, in order to have access to the party fund and TV, each party needs to hold 1.5% of the votes in at least 9 states and elect at least nine deputies. It was an electoral victory within the situation of the strengthening of the extreme right. With almost 3% of the votes, the party elected 10 federal deputies (of which 5 are women) and 18 state deputies. PSOL surpassed established electoral machines, such as PTB and Solidarity, reaching 2,783,669 votes, won in a struggle under unequal conditions, with fewer resources from the electoral fund and television time.

The responsibility of PSOL, therefore, increased. The mandates and the votes of PSOL will be trenches of struggle. The PSOL is revalidated as a strategic project. Regardless of the results of the second round, the party will have a fundamental role to play in a situation of sharpening class struggle in the streets and of great polarization with the extreme right in Parliament.

The new federal bench is very strong and representative, as it gathers the strength of the new renewal movements carried out by women and by black people – a factor already anticipated by Marielle Franco, whose legacy led to the election of three of her direct advisers. Therefore, at the national level PSOL will gather the force of renewal expressed in the results of Sâmia Bomfim, Talíria Petrone, Fernanda Melchionna and Áurea Carolina and the representativeness and experience of names such as Marcelo Freixo, Luiza Erundina, Ivan Valente, Glauber Braga, Jean Wyllys and Edimilson Rodrigues. Such force will already be put to the test in the fight of the second round, in which the party correctly placed its forces at the service of the defeat of Bolsonaro with the campaign for Haddad 13.

However, this unitary struggle can not blind us to an evident reality: the left critical of the PT lost opportunities to become an anti-capitalist and anti-regime pole with a large national audience. Unfortunately PSOL was weak at the most decisive moments, not adopting a position independent of the ones of PT, which impeded the emergence of an alternative to the left with mass weight.

This absence takes its toll when fractions of the working class, of the popular masses and of the petty bourgeoisie which could be convinced by our policies are deceived by a reactionary liquidation of the New Republic regime. In the elections, in a very distorted way, the existing space for this alternative ended up being mostly occupied by Ciro Gomes.

The PSOL had a weak presidential campaign but the growth of its federal and state groups revealed precisely the strength that an independent policy attached to the democratic movement can have: it was shown when our candidacies throughout the country were linked to the strength of the women’s movement, to the black movement and the mobilizations for the “#EleNão”. This is proved by the expressive results of Sâmia Bomfim, Talíria Petrone, Fernanda Melchionna and Áurea Carolina in the federal bench, as well as the various comrades elected for the state benches. The tendencies with the most anti-capitalist profile brought the PSOL’s victorious results for the Chamber: Sâmia Bomfim, with its almost 250 thousand votes, achieved the highest vote in the history of PSOL in São Paulo and was the most voted member of the left in the state, the 16th most voted federal parliamentarian in Brazil. Fernanda Melchionna, in turn, was the woman with the most votes for federal deputy in Rio Grande do Sul. Talíria Petrone, which embodies Marielle’s legacy, was the second most voted of the PSOL in Rio de Janeiro, where three comrades linked to the mandate of Marielle Franco were elected as state deputies. Luciana Genro was the most voted state deputy in Porto Alegre.

With the deputies in the Federal Chamber, we will have a trench of resistance, a point of support for the struggles that will unfold in the face of the intensity of the attacks that the bourgeoisie plans against the working people of Brazil.

Defeating Bolsonaro in the polls and on the streets

It is time to fight to prevent the proto-fascism of Bolsonaro of winning. The flood of votes towards this candidate is huge, but we can prevent his attempt to organize an economic war and a dictatorship against the people. We are voting for Haddad 13, keeping our independence and our political initiative, in unity actions in defense of democracy with all the political forces, social sectors and personalities that are in favor of defending the democratic conquests of the 1988 Constitution in the face of the risk of a reactionary regime change.

There is space in the popular neighborhoods to change the confused vote of a sector of the town for the proto-fascist. With the numerous activities that are being organized in the neighborhoods and in the house-to-house dispute it might still be possible to change the results. An example of these initiatives are the numerous public classes that the Emancipa Network of Popular Courses is organizing.

The PSOL is placing its force and that of its parliamentarians in that struggle, mobilizing grassroots committees against Bolsonaro and in defense of democracy. The women’s movement, which was the vanguard in the fight against Bolsonaro in the first round, already called a new national date of mobilizations for 10/20. In addition to this more centralized initiative, new campaign initiatives are being stimulated by “#EleNão” and by vote 13 against Bolsonaro. The youth has already taken important steps mobilizing large assemblies in the Universities. And the more we are able to penetrate that struggle in the places of work, study, housing and social networks, the greater our chances of defeating Bolsonaro are. If he ends up winning, we will have a strong resistance trench. This is also a mobilization in defense of Brazil, of the democratic conquests of the people, of the rights of the workers, of our natural riches and of the national patrimony against the onslaught of the bourgeoisie, of the fascist clash groups that orbit Bolsonaro family, of the corrupt politicians of the parties of the so-called “centrão” [“big-center”], of the ruralist and fundamentalist benches, which gather around the candidate of the PSL and of imperialism to impose violence and economic war on Brazil. We will not allow this! It is possible to win!

The fate of the PSOL and the Brazilian socialists is strongly linked to the capacity of the people to resist. In this we trust and bet our best energies.

“# EleNão”!

Dictatorship never again!

Bolsonaro wants to sell Brazil and end our rights!

Bolsonaro is more violence and corruption!

On the second round, let’s vote Haddad and Manuela 13!

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Writing office

  • Pedro Fuentes
  • Bernardo Corrêa
  • Charles Rosa
  • Clara Baeder