Jair Bolsonaro, although weakened, continues to whip up and radicalize his far-right base. His current target is the electoral system. Without any proof and a lot of lies, Bolsonaro claims that fraud will defeat him in the 2022 elections. He has said on numerous occasions that if there is no “printed and auditable” vote, there will be no election. These threats are explicit and repeated. The small ‘Bolsonarista’ demonstrations that took place on 1 August were called on this ‘golpista’ (pro-coup) axis. Faced with the growing fragility of his government and his possible electoral defeat by former president Lula da Silva in 2022, Bolsonaro has, with support from sectors of the military, adopted the line of neo-fascist radicalization in order to mobilize his most fanatical social base and destabilize the upcoming electoral process.
Even though Bolsonaro does not have the political and social strength inside or outside of the country to impose a military coup, his anti-democratic campaign is nevertheless of enormous significance. First, because it aims to disrupt the electoral contest and delegitimize any outcome other than his re-election. Thus, he will not hesitate to carry out criminal acts to attack the electoral process if he is in a position to do so. Second, because even if elections take place without any major upheaval, the knowledge that Bolsonaro is facing likely electoral defeat means that he is already preparing the formation of a fascist and ‘golpista’ opposition across the country to oppose the government that will be elected.
It is therefore essential that Bolsonaro’s ‘golpismo’ be defeated by moving forward with the struggle to overthrow him as soon as possible. There should be no illusion that he will respect the rules of the current electoral system. The decision has already been made to set the campaign in motion to destabilize the electoral process. Underestimating the fascist is a serious mistake. Bolsonaro has been weakened, but he is not yet defeated. There is a significant social majority against his government, but he maintains a base of mass support, albeit a minority one. He will not accept his downfall without a fierce, neo-fascist-style struggle to preserve his influence and power. Therefore, maintaining and strengthening the ‘Fora Bolsonaro’ (Bolsonaro Out) Campaign in the second half of this year is key. The battle for the streets is decisive.
In this regard, the left cannot hedge all its bets on an eventual electoral victory at the end of next year, not least because Bolsonaro may regain popularity by then. The main thing now is to intensify the mass struggle for impeachment. There is an important timetable of struggles established by the united ‘Fora Bolsonaro’ campaign. There are mobilizations and actions in August, such as the struggle against public sector administrative reform (PEC 32) and the privatization of the Post Office. Public servants have scheduled a nationwide strike for 18 August. These all lead to another big round of national demonstrations on 7 September.
Exploit the divisions within the ruling class and advance the construction of the Left Front
The fissures and conflicts that exist within ruling circles must also be exploited. Fearing impeachment, Bolsonaro has put Ciro Nogueira (Progressives, PP) in charge of the ‘Casa Civil’, i.e. made him the President’s Chief of Staff, the second most important post in the federal government. This grants Bolsonaro much greater protection in Congress, at least for now. After all, the Centrão (center parties) are charging Bolosonaro more and more for their support and, depending on how the situation evolves, they may abandon the ship of government if they feel they have more to lose than win. Besides, even with the support of Ciro Nogueira’s Progressives, Bolsonaro does not have control of either the COVID Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry (CPI) or the majority in the Senate.
In addition, Bolsonaro is also in open conflict with the heads of the Judiciary. This week, the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) and the Federal Supreme Court (STF) have unanimously opened new investigations against Bolsonaro into various electoral crimes, ordinary crimes, and crimes of responsibility. There are also important sectors of the bourgeoisie which support the government’s privatization agenda (eg. the Correios postal service) and the liberal reforms of Paulo Guedes, but are politically opposed to Bolsonaro. Then there is the manifesto published in the newspapers on 5 August entitled “Eleições serão respeitadas” (Elections will be respected), signed by big bank and business leaders (Itaú, Magalu, Credit Suisse, Natura, Suzano, and others), market economists and other public figures, which sets them against Bolsonaro’s ‘golpista’ campaign.
The unity of the Left, in the struggles and the elections, continues to be the principal tactic for defeating the government and ‘Bolsonarismo’. At the same time, importance must be given to concrete unity in action with the bourgeois sectors that want to take Bolsonaro on. The strengthening of a unified timetable of struggle and the building of a new big national round of ‘Fora Bolsonaro’ demonstrations in September needs to be the priority. The central strategy is the bringing down of this genocidal government this year through the power of the streets.
Along with this, it is necessary to build the left electoral alternative for 2022. We defend the formation of a candidacy that unifies all the parties of the left – the Party of Socialism and Freedom (PSOL), the Workers’ Party (PT), the Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB), the Brazilian Communist Party (PCB), United Socialist Workers’ Party (PSTU), Popular Unity (UP) – as well as the social movements, the black movement, the women’s movement, the LGBT movement, the indigenous movement, the environmentalist movement, and others. We feel that Lula, as the country’s most popular leader and the leader in the polls, must be the presidential candidate for this left front.
We are however opposed to any alliance with sectors of the right. Furthermore, we defend a program of structural changes with anti-capitalist proposals that guarantee employment, income, health, education, housing, and culture for the people. To make electoral coalitions with old ‘golpistas’ (coup plotters), as Lula and the majority leadership of the PT want, would mean renouncing the left’s program for social transformation once again. The “governability” that we need must be guaranteed through the active support of the majority of working people and the oppressed. It cannot be guaranteed through alliances with the bourgeoisie and the right. This will only prepare new betrayals and new coups, a reoccurring theme in our country’s history, as the recent coup against Dilma Rousseff that was led by her vice president Michel Temer (Brazilian Democratic Movement, MDB) demonstrates.
Defeating the Bolsonaro government and the neo-fascist far-right must be the number one priority for the whole of the left and all social movements. For this, unity is decisive. By defeating Bolsonaro and the right, we can open the way to the formation of a government of the left, one without any alliance with the right, and one that governs with and for the majority of the exploited and the oppressed. It is this political line that we act on within PSOL, which is holding its National Congress in September. The axis of this line is the defense of the ‘Frente de Esquerda’ (Left Front) for the struggles and the elections.
This article is an English translation of “O golpismo de Bolsonaro precisa ser derrotado”, [https://esquerdaonline.com.
Translation: Bobby Sparks