The pluricentric left

Image: Hamilton Grimaldi


Initial reflections on the municipal elections

(1) Bolsonaro was the big loser. In many of the biggest cities, their candidates had a low vote. Even where they were better, overall they were well below expectations. He also suffered minor humiliations – Carluxo lost a third of the votes compared to 2016 and the famous ghost employee Wal do Açaí, with only 266 votes, did not get a seat in the Chamber of Angra dos Reis.

(2) The situation is particularly dramatic for Bolsonarism in the city of São Paulo. Bolsonaro intuits, correctly, that he needs to prevent Dória from emerging as a natural agglutinator of that fragrant right wing that stays with him when the pressure is high, but does not sincerely love him. The defeat of Bruno Covas in the capital of São Paulo is, therefore, strategic for him. On the other hand, it is clear that a Boulos victory is a bad deal for the right as a whole, given the impetus it can give to the reactivation of the popular struggle.

(3) But Bolsonaro is obviously not a good loser. The cyber attack on the TSE, linked to the fake news to delegitimize the results, they show a willingness to take the Trumpist tactic to the last consequences. Bolsonaro hints that he wants to remain in power by law or by force.

(4) The traditional right was the biggest winner of the election, but its situation is not entirely comfortable. After all, the left has also regained some breath – and this traditional right can only emancipate itself from Bolsonarism if it is sure that the left is on the ropes.

(5) The media tries to sell, in addition to strengthening the “Center” (sic), the idea that the PT was the big loser. An example is the text by Igor Gielow, one of those Folha columnists, who says that the PT “in this municipal election became an auxiliary line of the radical acronym that came out of its side in 2004”. In the same move, he stigmatizes the PSOL as “radical”, in perfect alignment with the PSDB's discourse, and throws the PT into irrelevance. But the PT seems to have recovered space in medium-sized municipalities and reaches the second round with chances of victory in cities such as Juiz de Fora, Contagem, Caxias do Sul, Pelotas, Diadema, São Gonçalo, Anápolis, Cariacica, Feira de Santana, Vitória da Conquista , Santarém – in addition to Recife and Vitória. Even in São Paulo capital, Tatto had a reasonable performance, given the adverse conditions, and the PT had the largest bench in the Chamber of Councilors (tied with the PSDB).

(6) Everything indicates that the PT is not recovering the hegemony that it once had in the field of the left, but that the PSOL does not replace it either. The Brazilian left will be pluricentric. This is not bad, but it requires greater capacity for articulation and dialogue.

(7) The great fact of the election is the arrival of Boulos in the second round, with a great distance in relation to França and Russomano and much closer to Bruno Covas than the polls predicted. The campaign for the second round is short and the PSDB has many more resources. But Boulos is a much better candidate, with the ability to leverage the window of exposure he will enjoy now. And the result of the first round encourages the militancy of the left. In short, it is permissible to dream of a victory in the largest city in the country.

(8) The situation is more difficult in Porto Alegre and Belém, where Manuela and Edmilson reach the second round with stronger opponents than expected. By the simple sum of the votes of the defeated candidates according to their political positions, favoritism is with the “centrist” Sebastião Melo, in Porto Alegre, and with the fascist-like Eguchi, in Belém. Fortunately, it's not that simple. But, if it were to bet, I would place more hopes in Marília Arraes and Guilherme Boulos, who reach the second round with an upward bias.

(9) Apparently, there was a growth in the number of left-wing councilors throughout Brazil. It is news that deserves celebration. Anyone who has followed Brazilian politics in municipalities in recent years knows that each leftist mandate makes a difference – to defeat setbacks, to denounce them, to articulate resistance with social movements.

(10) I didn't say anything about the election in Rio de Janeiro, my hometown. The election there was a comedy of errors. May Rio rest in Paes.

* Luis Felipe Miguel He is a professor at the Institute of Political Science at UnB, where he coordinates the Research Group on Democracy and Inequalities (Demodê). Author, among other books, of Domination and resistance: challenges for an emancipatory policy (Boitempo).


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