Elections: Confronting Bolsonaro and strengthening the left

Júlio Nascimento

President Jair Bolsonaro

The municipal election campaign officially begins on Sunday 27 September. The contest in the cities will take place in a context of the continuing pandemic which has already killed more than 140,000 Brazilians; an intense social crisis which sees 25 million workers now unemployed; and the relative strengthening of the far-right government of Jair Bolsonaro, a government which has increased in popularity due to the effects of emergency aid.

The key question in these elections is the clash between Bolsonarismo and anti-Bolsonarismo. Will the overall result strengthen the neo-fascist far-right, which heads up the federal government, or will it represent a defeat for Jair Bolsonaro?

Three great political forces will feature in this contest: the far-right, organized as various alternatives but dominated by the Bolsonaro family; the traditional right which is divided into a large number of parties but led by the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB) and the Democrats (DEM); and the left which is represented above all by the Party of Socialism and Freedom (PSOL), the Workers’ Party (PT) and the Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB).

The far-right fundamentally relies on Bolsonaro and the political influence that his reactionary agenda has on a significant portion of the population. On the other hand, a sector of Brazilian society has also formed, one as significant as the first, which rejects the Bolsonaro government and its program of destruction outright. The left will certainly seek support from this anti-Bolsonaro mass.

In turn, the traditional alternatives of the right and center will try to prioritize the winning of the intermediate sector between the two poles of Bolsonarismo and anti-Bolsonarismo, and mould their discourse closer to or away from the far-right as different local realities demand.

It is to be expected that the three great political forces in this contest will harvest defeats and victories as a result of the specific political and social conditions in each municipal contest. However, the central question is, which of these forces will excel and which will lose out overall. The political struggle for hearts and minds over the next seven weeks will determine this outcome.

The primary task for the left: confronting Bolsonarismo

There is nothing more important in these elections than fighting neo-fascist Bolsonarismo. Each left candidacy must be the spearhead of this political and ideological war. The consolidation and strengthening of the Bolsonaro government, and the possibility of its re-election in 2022, is a deadly threat to what remains of the social and democratic rights of the working and oppressed masses.

The central themes in the life of the working population in each city – health, employment, income, education, security, housing, transport, etc. – must be framed as part of the fight against Bolsonarismo. The cities must become the scene for resistance to neo-fascism.

In this sense, it is necessary that in each city Bolsonaro and his allies, as well as the representatives of the traditional right, are denounced for their responsibility for the pandemic. Emphasizing their responsibility for mass unemployment, food inflation, the destruction of the Pantanal wetlands, the Amazon and the Cerrado savanna, as well as racist, misogynist, and LGBTphobic violence is also required. They must also be denounced for their destruction of the public service, for privatization, and the privileges of the billionaires.

At the same time, these left candidates must have the courage and daring to present a positive anti-capitalist program that defends the working and oppressed majority and refers to their most strongly felt demands. Cities should work for the 99%, not the 1%. Those on the periphery must be placed in the center. For all this, it is necessary to put the anti-capitalist agenda center stage, and the fight against the genocide of young black people in the favelas (slums) and the outlying suburbs in particular, as well as the struggle for the demands of women and LGBTQI+.

The role of PSOL and Resistência

Within the left, the strengthening of the Party of Socialism and Freedom (PSOL) is evident. The party’s firm and consistent position of defending the interests of the working class and the oppressed sectors while refusing to make alliances with the right has built the party into an increasingly important political reference point.

The PSOL was the left-wing opposition to the Lula and Dilma governments because of petista (PT) conciliation with a part of the Brazilian bourgeoisie. The party later positioned itself against the coup when the ruling class broke its the pact with the PT. The party fought against the Temer government, opposed Lula’s political arrest, denounced the Lava Jato (Car Wash) legal probe, and was on the front line of resistance to Bolsonarismo.

The PSOL was also in the vanguard of the feminist spring and the big “Ele Não” (Not Him) demonstration in 2018. The party has allied itself with the Homeless Workers’ Movement (MTST) and other combative social movements. In the struggle of the oppressed, it lost Marielle Franco who was executed in Rio de Janeiro. The intensity of Bolsonarismo’s attacks on the PSOL is a demonstration of the value that the party has to the struggle of the working class and the oppressed.

At this moment, opinion polls indicate that the PSOL has candidates that are well-positioned in several capitals: Guilherme Boulos in São Paulo; Edmilson Rodrigues in Belém; Elson Pereira in Florianópolis; and Áurea Carolina in Belo Horizonte. For the first time, the party can become the main political force of the left in several of the country’s capitals in the southeast and the south. This is a positive process and of particular relevance to the reorganization of the Brazilian left.

Within the PSOL, the socialist current Resistência (Resistance), the driving force behind the Esquerda Online (Left Online) news site, is launching dozens of candidacies to the câmaras muncipais (city and municipal councils) and will have city hall candidates for the party in several cities, including two capitals – Aracajú (in the northeastern state of Sergipe) and Goiânia (in the central state of Goiás). These are candidates that are black workers, women, young people, civil servants, workers, transsexuals, teachers and anti-fascist fighters. All of whom will be committed to the political struggle against the far-right and the strengthening of the socialist left.

This news site is also at the service of this struggle in the elections and invites all our readers to join us in this battle over the coming weeks. It is not only about voting at the polls, but above all about the fight against the neo-fascist advance in Brazil. Vamos juntos! (Together, let’s go!)

This article is an English translation of “Eleições: enfrentar o bolsonarismo e fortalecer a esquerda”, Esquerda Online (EOL), 27/09/2020.

Translation: Bobby Sparks