Elections. Brazil puts its democracy on the line
So here is Brazil at the end of the four years of the outrageous mandate of Jair Bolsonaro. He who was only an obscure local politician before becoming president, without an electoral coalition, nostalgic for dictatorship and torture, leaves Brazilians groggy. After seeing hunger eradicated under the left, 33.1 million of them today lament a desperately empty plate. Over 60% of the population is food insecure, well above the global average. During the campaign, Jair Bolsonaro constantly denied this fact. Advantage to the left in this matter and to Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in this case, who finds the political adversary he should have faced four years ago, if he had not been thrown in prison by a justice at the behest of the revanchist right. Cleared of accusations, a real political animal, the old wolf is once again at the center of the arena for the presidential election on October 2.
The captain shows his last card
In early September, the lead of the former head of state in the polls (45%) over his far-right competitor, outgoing President Jair Bolsonaro (32%), is explained by the memory of social progress. obtained during his mandate (2003-2010): 30 million Brazilians lifted out of poverty, 10 million more joining the middle classes, 76% increase in the minimum wage and 215% in the nominal wage, housing programs (My house, my life), positive discrimination in access to public university, regulation of domestic workers…
Alas, the average salary (2,693 reais, 517 euros) is today at one of its lowest levels in ten years. Despite a catastrophic toll, which is combined with 684,000 Covid deaths, Jair Bolsonaro shot his last card at the end of the summer by raising, until December, from 400 (77 euros) to 600 reais (115 euros) monthly aid for 20.2 million families. Grand prince, the one who only had the words austerity and ultra-liberalism in his mouth, decides in the last resort on gas subsidies and compensation for truck drivers. Out of recession, the country, the largest economy in Latin America, saw its growth start again in the second quarter (1.2%), which partly explains the rise in the polls of the president. For his alleged popular reconversion, the leader of the far right made a trip to the heart of a favela in Alagoas (Nordeste, home state of Lula and largely loyal to the Workers’ Party) in June to inaugurate the construction of 1,176 apartments. Beyond the one-off measures, Lula promises to gradually boost social programs, starting by releasing an additional 18 billion reais (3.49 billion euros) if he is elected in October and if the budget allows it.
Like 2018, the outgoing president’s campaign was a web of misinformation. Determined to torpedo the ballot, he also calls into question the electronic vote, in place since 1996, and counts on the militias to stir up trouble in the event of defeat. “I am constantly accused of (fomenting a) coup de force. We have time to solve the problem, with the participation of the armed forces,” he warns. If Jair Bolsonaro counts on his supporters within the military police, many observers believe that this cannot be enough to destabilize the country. At most, he could “sow trouble like Donald Trump did on Capitol Hill”, in reference to the assault on January 6, 2021 by supporters of the peroxidized billionaire to block the certification of the results of the vote, believes Guilherme Boulos, parliamentary candidate for the Socialism and Freedom Party (PSOL). This is also the opinion of Lula, who says he is « convinced that in Brazil, the result of the elections will be respected without discussion », marking the difference with his rival.
Decomposition of the line
The mandate of the outgoing president was marked by multiple attempts at institutional rupture. The former captain dismissed by the army has constantly undermined democratic institutions, from Parliament to the Supreme Court. To put an end to this permanent danger, all the left-wing parties and workers’ and peasants’ unions, which are being restructured, are carrying Lula’s candidacy. “The communists were in the democratic offensive from the start to form a broad front to defeat Bolsonarism,” insists the vice-president of the Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB), Walter Sorrentino.
The Workers’ Party has a memory and knows that social programs will not be enough to overthrow Jair Bolsonaro in an extremely polarized context which saw the battle over values prevail over the economic and social project during the last presidential election. The left-wing formation also remembers that, during Dilma Rousseff’s second term (2014-2016), economic and financial circles, anticipating a drop in profit rates, urged the president to be rigorous and to structural reforms. As the liberal turn accentuates the crisis, the Lava Jato corruption affair breaks out. The press is unleashed on the PT and nationalist and conservative movements demand the dismissal of the president. The “bolsonarization” of minds is underway.
Accused of having concealed the extent of public deficits, Dilma Rousseff faces a dismissal procedure from the « three Bs », parliamentarians who defend agribusiness (bancada do boi, « beef »), evangelicals (bancada da biblia , “bible”) and the gun lobby (bancada da bala, “bullet”). The parliamentary model of compromise which had allowed the PT to maintain itself explodes in flight. Once the head of state was overthrown, her vice-president Michel Temer (Brazilian Democratic Movement Party – PMDB) took over and confirmed the austerity shift. Its failure marks the beginning of the rise of Jair Bolsonaro, of the crisis of the traditional right, in particular of the Party of Brazilian Social Democracy (PSDB, right), of which Geraldo Alckmin, supporter of the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, is the presidential candidate of 2006 and 2018. Four years later, part of the right acts its decomposition. This is the case of Geraldo Alckmin, who left the PSDB, and became Lula’s running mate. The latter sees in him the man capable of reassuring the business community, also scalded by the erratic mandate of Bolsonaro. If the alliance creates terror on the left of the PT, some consider the fight for the defense of democracy a priority. A fight embodied, indisputably, by Lula.