The Party of Socialism and Freedom (PSOL) began its 7th National Congress on 24 September with 402 people meeting online. They represented almost 50,000 members from across Brazil who in recent months participated in plenary meetings, on-site voting, and state congresses. The meeting ended on 26 September with the adoption of various resolutions along with voting for the party’s next national leadership, the board of the Lauro Campos Foundation, and the ethics committee. Assessments were made of the national and international political situation, party construction and organization, electoral tactics, the party’s policies for women, the black population, the LGBTQIA+ community, people with disabilities, and there were also sectoral discussions on ecosocialism, health, public safety, anti-drug prohibition, technology, agrarian reform, and other topics.
Saturday 25 September saw the adoption of some of the main resolutions dealing with the international situation, the national situation, and the 2022 elections. The resolution on the national situation endorsed by delegates gave top priority to the fight for the immediate impeachment of Jair Bolsonaro and of unity in the street mobilizations, all pointing to the need to defeat Bolsonaro now. “We are not among those who agree to wait for the 2022 elections to rid Brazil of Bolsonaro,” states the resolution adopted by the majority of delegates, which defends the need for continuing street protests and the coordination of activism through the Fora Bolsonaro (Bolsonaro Out) campaign and the Frente Povo Sem Medo (People without Fear Front). Among the immediate issues raised as part of the 2 October demonstrations, the PSOL aims to highlight the fight against hunger, the call for a price freeze on energy and basic foodstuffs (the ‘cesta básica’), the fight against privatization, and defense of the public service through opposition to the government’s administrative reform, known as Constitutional Amendment Proposal 32 (PEC 32).
The resolution also points to a willingness for broad unity in action with any sector that agrees to take to the streets to overthrow the Bolsonaro government. “We must be open to establishing unity in action and broadening the struggle for impeachment with all sectors that oppose the Bolsonaro government. We are in favor of coordinating these demonstrations even with social and political sectors of the right who are in favor of impeachment and of taking to the streets to achieve this goal,” reads an excerpt.
The PSOL has also prioritized the building of a new programmatic project alongside the social movements for a genuine reconstruction of Brazil. The party established that it will “contribute to the building of spaces [for discussion] together with the social movements (as we did with the ‘Vamos’ (Let’s Go) platform in 2017/2018).” “We propose building this more broadly within the movements and territories, given the challenges of the crisis in the country,” it continues. In the discussion of this broad programmatic project of transformation, the PSOL advocates going beyond the projects of pure developmentalism. “We do not seek a mere ‘return to the past.’ We call for a project that thinks about the reconstruction of the country on an anti-neoliberal basis, one in tune with the challenges we face, and goes beyond predatory models, even those based on developmentalism,” the party noted. The PSOL proposes that such a program starts with the repeal of the measures and counter-reforms implemented after the 2016 coup, and that it not only defends but seeks to radicalize Brazilian democracy, “combining representative and participatory forms of citizen deliberation, a decentralization of power and thinking of the State as a representation of a new relation of forces that express the interests of those who live from their work.”
Elections: build the ‘frente de esquerda’ (left front)
PSOL’s 7th Congress decided not to present a party pre-candidate for the Presidency so that the party can concentrate on the building of a nationally unified left electoral front. The decision was taken by the majority (56%) of the 402 delegates. The resolution calling for the PSOL to present federal deputy Glauber Braga (Rio de Janeiro) as its own candidate received 44% of the votes. On this basis, the PSOL will convene an Extraordinary Electoral Conference in the first half of 2022 to make final decisions about electoral tactics, alliance policies, distribution of party funds, regulation of collective candidacies, and other issues.
“The 2022 elections are a decisive part of the process of overcoming the far-right. The social and political forces to defeat Bolsonaro must be first brought together, and then from 2023 fight to overcome the deep social, political, economic, health, and environmental crisis we are now experiencing,” says the PSOL. “Nationally, the priority should be building unity among the popular sectors to ensure the defeat of the far-right. This process of discussion must involve elements of program, an arc of alliances, and it cannot be a one-way street,” the adopted resolution continues. “We do not just want a government of ‘national salvation’: we want a left government, one committed to social rights, the environment, national sovereignty, the overcoming of prejudice and state violence. We want a government that serves equality and social justice,” the party noted.
Cláusula de barreira (Electoral threshold)
Other strategic tasks set by the PSOL were the party’s overcoming of the electoral threshold at the 2022 elections and the construction of increasingly larger and more representative ‘bancadas’ (parliamentary caucuses) to defeat the far-right’s exclusionary project. “Overcoming the electoral threshold depends on the continuity of our political project and the construction of a socialist and democratic alternative for Brazil,” the PSOL points out. From 2022, parties will need at least 2% of valid votes distributed across a minimum of one-third of all federal regions, or elect 11 federal deputies distributed across nine states. The PSOL received 2.18% of valid votes at the last elections and now has nine federal deputies after Marcelo Freixo (Rio de Janeiro) left the party earlier this year to join the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB).
“Our fight does not end with the 2022 elections. On the contrary: the reconstruction of Brazil will come up against even more complex challenges in the future. But we must not cut ourselves off from the expectations of thousands of people who have placed their hope for change in the PSOL. We will do everything within our grasp to free Brazil from the Bolsonarista nightmare and guarantee a fair, free, and democratic Brazil,” those present at PSOL’s 7th National Congress concluded.
The resolution on the international political situation indicated that the main task for the PSOL was the articulation of a network of anti-capitalist parties in Latin America, and through this network, discussion with left experiences in other parts of the world. “The PSOL must broaden its connections with other anti-capitalist political forces around the world, particularly in Latin America, as a way of sharing experiences and unifying prognoses and proposals for action,” says an excerpt of the adopted resolution. The PSOL also reinforced its solidarity with oppressed people of the world, in particular the Palestinians, the Kurds, the Sahrawi people of Western Sahara, and others victimized by colonialism and racism, as well as with all processes of popular, indigenous, feminist, and anti-colonial resistance.
Translation: Bobby Sparks