Friday, June 21, 2024
HomeCountriesBrazil20 notes on the Brazilian election

20 notes on the Brazilian election


Seasoned Brazilian political observer, Bernardo Kucinski, comments on the victory of Dilma Rousseff, suggesting in passing that this election could pave the way for the return of Lula.

  1. Every presidential election has a strategic dimension because it can lead to a profound change in policies.
  2. This election was about a 12-year reign, not just another 4 years of PT, because, after Dilma, Lula could run again, which could result the PT being in power for 24 years – a whole generation.
  3. For this reason the election was ferociously contested by the conservative camp, who for years have been virulently anti-PT, with elitist innuendos in their snide remarks (“How scandalous, to have an ignoramus like Lula, as president!”), and was getting ready to reap the fruit of its campaigning.
  4. As always, the conservatives waved the flag of corruption, which always manages to seduce the hypocritical and moralistic middle classes. It was the case with the suicide of Getúlio Vargas in 1954, it was the case with the election of Jânio Quadros in 1960, it was the case with the coup in 1964, and it was the case in Collor de Melo’s campaign. And so again this time.
  5. They were also very successful in waving the flag of change. The disappointment with the “mensalão”, and the other cases of corruption linked to PT, created a desire for change, reinforced by the sensation that the economic cycle based on internal consumption is exhausted and the direction of economic policy needs to change.
  6. The July protests gave social legitimacy to the desire for change, especially to the demand for an improvement in public services, transport, healthcare, security, education and housing.
  7. The conservatives were not successful because the transformations introduced by PT created a more resistant social base for the party, less vulnerable to manipulation, which associated the idea of “change” with “regression” in the public policies that they favour. That is, change for the worse and not for the better. In other words, the PT’s public policies and programmes of social inclusion were fundamental and people were afraid that they would be reversed — Prouni, Bolsa-família, Cotas para negros, Minha Casa Minha Vida, Mais Médico, Luz para Todos, Vale Cultura etc.
  8. The social movements, at first hesitant, started to close ranks behind Dilma when they saw petismo in danger.
  9. The more enlightened part of the middle class and those most disappointed by the PT, most of them previously PT party members (artists, activists, intellectuals), were frightened by Marina’s retrogressive, evangelical views (on abortion, gay marriage, etc) and with the presence of many well-known financial spectators, like Armínio Fraga, in her entourage.
  10. In Aécio these same intellectuals and activists saw a play-boy who had never worked in his life, who had job after job in the public sector, jobs that didn’t even require him to show up.  While Dilma was fighting the dictatorship, he was surfing on Ipanema beach. 
  11. Aécio was from the beginning plan B for the tucanos (PSDB supporters) or, perhaps even worse, the candidate to be sacrificed. After the death of Campos, the tucanos always wanted Marina and their support for Aécio was always formal. They always knew that he was vulnerable, could be shattered.
  12. Marina was their plan A – a saint, pure, with the solid support of those who had voted for her in an earlier election, an ecologist, and so on. In short, the Messiah sent by God to free us from the PT plague. During the campaign, she lost her aura of saintliness, became an ordinary person of flesh and blood, a fragile person, a contradictory person, someone who felt deep anger for Dilma and the PT (for reasons that I don’t understand). It was interesting to see how her face and body language changed when she was overtaken by Aécio, her angelic features were demonized. 
  13. The large-scale movement of votes first to Marina and then to Aécio showed that considerable part of the electorate was looking for an alternative to the PT and they remained like this to the end, as is shown in the near draw that the election ended in. For these people, who must include near all the very wealthy, the right-wing middle-classes and many members of the evangelical churches, Dilma’s victory was legal but not legitimate. They felt robbed. I saw their vicious faces when I went to vote. I have never seen people vote with such angry faces, as if they were committing an illegal act or an act of vengeance.
  14. I think that the almost automatic way that the stock market rose and the dollar fell every time the opinion polls showed an advance for Aécio (and vice-versa) helped to create a direct relationship between the tucanos and speculative interests. 
  15. This was the presidential election that most sharply divided the nation, with the rich on one side and the poor on another. A class dispute. All the (poor) Northeast and Amazon region with Dilma, and the (rich) South (except for Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro) with Aécio. There was even a touch of “class hatred”, with a lot of aggression against PT and anti-Dilma slogans like “Fora Dilma” (Out With Dilma), Dilma “filha da puta” (“That bitch Dilma”) etc. This began during the World Cup when the right launched the campaign “There will be no Cup”. 
  16.  International speculators also shamelessly joined in, through vehicles like The Economist calling for votes Aécio.
  17. Technically, Aécio was defeated because he lost in his home state, Minas Gerais, where he had also served as governor, and one of just two states in the south-east where Dilma won. In Minas he was well known, especially for his authoritarianism, and his “new face of a good boy” did not work.
  18. The PT was really scared, which is good. We will see if they have learnt their lesson. If they have learnt that it is not enough to have the State apparatus in your hands, that you have to fight for hegemony. To turn social advances into an ideology, a shared vision of the world. To fight against lies in the big media. Until the final second many of us thought we could lose. On election night the tucanos (PSDB supporters) were preparing to celebrate and Fernando Henrique Cardoso flew to Brasilia to be by Aécio’s side when he announced his victory.
  19. Dilma’s victory speech recognised that there has to be change. It was a mature speech, with proposals and without demagogy. It is interesting that this woman, who did not know how to speak in public, showed herself in this improvised speech to be better than Lula in developing a rational line of thought, very well structured and coherent. It was a speech that was both conciliatory for the the half of the electorate that voted against her and reassuring for those that voted for her, many of them with doubts, that they had made the right decision. 
  20. In all, it was a beautiful electoral process that strengthened democracy in Brazil, a lesson for many countries, including developed countries, in which elections are fraudulent or don’t happen. Boats fetching Indians from their villages in the end of the world. Troops in the favelas to guarantee security. The results were known after two hours (and it would have been sooner, had it not been for the different time zones).

This article is funded by readers like you

Only with regular support can we maintain our website, publish LAB books and support campaigns for social justice across Latin America. You can help by becoming a LAB Subscriber or a Friend of LAB. Or you can make a one-off donation. Click the link below to learn about the details.

Support LAB