In the face of the tragedy caused by the current government, the majority of people are placing their hope in Lula to defeat Bolsonaro at the elections. Workers and youth are looking to the former president with the expectation that his victory will offer some encouragement after so many years of destruction and retreat. That’s why, in terms of first-round voting intentions, the Workers’ Party (PT) presidential candidate is polling at over 40% and in some polls closer to 50%.
Despite the growing weakness of his government, Bolsonaro still maintains a considerable base of support of at least 20% or more. Even though he has lost favor with the electorate, the neo-fascist leader remains competitive and can count on the likely support of the majority of the bourgeoisie and the middle class in any potential second round against Lula. And he can still mobilize his followers in the streets.
LEIA EM PORTUGUÊS: Por uma candidatura Lula sem Alckmin e a direita
LEA EN ESPAÑOL: Por una candidatura de Lula sin Alckmin y la derecha
The big business and traditional media are, on the other hand, working to facilitate the appearance of a so-called ‘third way’ candidate. Names in this right-wing contest include former judge Sérgio Moro (Podemos), João Dória and Eduardo Leite (Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB), Rodrigo Pacheco (Social Democratic Party, PSD), Luiz Henrique Mandetta (União Brasil)* and Simone Tebet (Brazilian Democratic Movement, MDB).
The ruling class is wagering on one of these pre-candidates becoming viable before the middle of next year, and is relying on both the weakening position of Bolsonaro and the ‘antipetismo’ (anti-PT sentiment) that still pervades the middle class. However, even in Faria Lima (São Paulo’s equivalent to New York’s Wall Street), everyone knows that the most likely scenario given current political conditions is that 2022 will only reaffirm the polarization between Lula and Bolsonaro.
Against this background, we consider that the unity of the left in the elections is fundamental. Nothing is more important than the defeat of Bolsonaro, who still remains a serious threat.
The majority of people see Lula as the instrument for defeating both the fascist and the bourgeois third way in the elections. Therefore, our evaluation is that an alliance of all the parties of the left, the social movements, trade unions, and the black, feminist, LGBTQIA+, indigenous, environmental, and cultural movements must be built around the candidacy of the former president.
In the current context of neo-fascist danger, we believe that launching the PSOL’s own presidential candidate would be a mistake. We defend the need of the party of Marielle Franco to fight for the unity of the left, and to fight with the understanding of the place that Lula occupies in the electoral contest with Bolsonaro and the other right-wing alternatives.
The ‘Frente de Esquerda’ (Left Front) in the streets is also fundamental, whether for the struggles for the most heartfelt demands of the people or to demonstrate our strength in the face of any ‘golpista’ (coup) threats aimed at the electoral process or its outcome.
For a Front with no right-wing alliances and a left-wing program
In recent weeks the press has reported about negotiations for Geraldo Alckmin to be Lula’s vice-president. Nobody knows for sure how much truth there is in this. But the fact is that neither side has so far denied the speculation. Both Lula and Alckmin have let the rumor run with their exchanges of pleasantries.
Alckmin has governed the state of São Paulo four times and was twice the PSDB candidate for president. The ‘tucano’ (toucan – PSBD member) supported the coup against Dilma Rousseff in 2016 and celebrated Lula’s arrest in 2018 that stemmed from Operation Lava Jato. Geraldo is known for ordering the brutal repression of popular struggles, such as the evictions from the Pinheirinho favela in 2012 and the demonstrations of June 2013. He has always governed against the people, applied a neoliberal program of privatization, cut social investments, and attacked workers’ rights.
With this toucan’s perverse history, why does the PT leadership allow reports that Alckmin may become Lula’s vice-president to thrive?
Above all, speculation about the alliance serves to “soothe” the bourgeoisie. The message they want to send is that, if the PT returns to the presidential Planalto Palace, the party will seek to govern in alliance with sectors of the right and big business, and manage Brazilian capitalism without attempting any structural change, just as PT governments did between 2003 and 2015.
We consider this political orientation to be a mistake and one that prepares only for strategic defeat. First, because the gestures of the left that try to win the “trust” of the right do not guarantee anything. After her reelection, Dilma Rousseff put a big finance market name (Joaquim Levy) in charge of the economy in 2015, and then applied a harsh liberal austerity plan. Not only did Dilma lose her base of popular support, but this move also failed to prevent the ruling class from backing the coup of 2016. In other words, having Alckmin or another right-wing figure as Lula’s vice president is no guarantee against a new coup attempt in a situation of acute political crisis. On the contrary, the vice-president himself will be a prime candidate to be a new Temer.
Second, alliances with the right lead to the renunciation of the program of the left. For example, to gain the “trust” of the bourgeoisie, Lula will not be able to commit to repealing the legacy of the coup. But shouldn’t a new ‘governo da esquerda’ (left government) reverse all the social security and labor reform, privatization, and the democratic and social attacks implemented in the last period? How will the demands of the working people and the oppressed (food, employment, housing, education, health, right to life, and culture) be met without breaking with the foundations of neoliberalism fanatically defended by big capital? How can the structural racism that is at the root of our abysmal social inequality be combated without profoundly confronting the age-old privileges of the bourgeoisie?
For all this, we believe that a Lula candidacy with a right-wing vice-president (be it Alckmin or another) will leave a possible left-wing government vulnerable to the danger of a coup from the far-right, and mean the abandonment of the program that calls for structural change in the country. From an electoral point of view, it will lead to disenchantment for the campaign within the ranks of the left. In addition, with the presentation of a debased program to please the elites, there will be less capacity to generate enthusiasm in the working class for the prospects of change. In summary, the alliances and the program of the candidacy will define in good measure the potential or the limits of an eventual new PT government.
In this respect, we argue that the name of the vice-president and the program of Lula’s candidacy need to be widely debated among the parties of the left, the social movements, and the black, feminist, indigenous, LGBTQIA+, environmental, and cultural movements. For example, why has Lula’s vice-president not come from the people, or are not a black or an indigenous woman?
With its importance on the Brazilian left, the Party of Socialism and Freedom (PSOL) can and should assume a prominent role in this process of political and programmatic discussion. A Lula candidacy with no right-wing alliances and a left-wing program will have more social strength to win the election, avoid any ‘golpista’ questioning of the results, and govern to change the country.