The political war of 2022

Image: Kaique Lopes


Commentary on the Brazilian political situation

The turn of the year was marked by record inflation, the tragedy of the rains, especially in Bahia, Minas Gerais and now in São Paulo, and the spread of diseases, the influenza variant (H3N2) and the Ômicron strain of Covid-19 . Fear and insecurity with the rains, diseases and the social crisis started a decisive year in the political struggle, with the presidential elections.

Opinion polls point to a scenario of great advantage for former President Lula, with more than 40%, while current President Jair Bolsonaro holds on at the level of 25% and the “third way” divided and bogged down with less than 10%. The expectation of Lula's victory in the elections has the positive effect of feeding hope in the progressive camp of imposing a defeat on the current of neo-fascism and the forces of neoliberalism.

There was a change in the situation in 2021, with the resumption of political rights by Lula and with the resumption of the streets by democratic and popular forces, in parallel with the wear and tear of the Bolsonaro government, but the correlation of forces did not change, which is still unfavorable for the popular forces and organizations of the working class. Brazil has been going through a neoliberal and conservative wave in the last eight years, which had effects on politics, the economy and the State.

The country went through the “shock doctrine” with the 2016 coup and the Bolsonaro government, which deepened an ultraneoliberal economic policy, which increased the economic crisis and political instability, the social crisis, with an impact on society as a whole. There were mixed reactions from the bourgeoisie and the upper middle class. The political-ideological conduct of the government by Jair Bolsonaro, with emphasis on his attitude towards the pandemic, generated political contradictions in the bourgeoisie, which is divided in the candidacies of the current president and the so-called “third way”.

However, the political differences in the right field did not lead to displacements in relation to the ongoing ultraneoliberal program. For this reason, occasional nods by businessmen and their spokespersons to Lula do not imply adherence to his candidacy. It is an attempt to create bridges with the favored candidate, moderate his program and preserve economic interests in case the PT candidate wins.

The capacity of the progressive forces to call mass demonstrations, mobilize the working class and make the ideological dispute in society is still quite limited. It was possible to resist and obtain victories in clashes in which there was unity with segments of the non-Bolsonarist right in Congress, in institutions and in the media. However, there was not enough force to stop the right's unity agendas, especially in the economic area.

Lula's return to the political-electoral game with a wide lead in the polls strengthened the progressive forces insofar as it unified the left and revived the prospect of resuming the federal government. The political capacity of the greatest popular leadership in the country, with its electoral strength, operated a change in the conjuncture favorable to the working class, even under an adverse correlation of forces. Therefore, the election of Lula is the central task, because it opens a new conjuncture and can accumulate for a change in the correlation of forces.

President Jair Bolsonaro went through the government’s most difficult moment last year, with the institutional wear and tear (with the Covid-19 CPI in the Senate and the position of the STF) that he faced with the “war of the printed vote”, with support from the Forces Armed forces and connivance of the Attorney General's Office. The outcome of this phase of the political-institutional crisis came after the Bolsonarist demonstrations on September 7, which inaugurated a period of greater institutional stability. The National Congress' co-option operation yielded results, blocked the impeachment and gave room for the approval of projects of interest to the government.

Bolsonaro maintained a level in the polls of around 25%, depending on the polls, with a high degree of fidelity that gave him a significant margin in relation to the so-called “third way” candidates. It will be favored in 2022 by the approval of the Auxílio Brasil Program, with the increase in the amount of the benefit to R$ 400,00, and with the drop in unemployment, which reached the lowest rate since January 2020, before the pandemic. The millions released in amendments, with privilege for the parliamentary base of the most Bolsonarist centrão, will make resources flow for works and programs this year. The presidential pen, which re-elected all presidents in the “New Republic” cycle, cannot be underestimated.

The non-Bolsonarist bourgeoisie, nicknamed the “third way”, arrived in 2022 with two candidates positioned, the governor of the state of São Paulo João Dória, who won the PSDB primaries, and the former judge and former minister Sérgio Moro. Nine months before the election, both are below 8%, even with the preference of the bourgeoisie and the support of the major media. While Dória faces a diaspora of historic toucans, such as former governor Geraldo Alckmin, quoted as vice-president on Lula's ticket, Moro faces difficulties in building his candidacy within the Podemos Party and is considering switching to the União Brasil Party.

The year started with Bolsonaro and the candidates of the non-Bolsonarist right raising the tone against Lula, which signals the level of the campaign in the coming months. The dispute in the right field will take place under the fierce attack on the left, with the resumption of the economic bankruptcy line in the Dilma government, the PT corruption accusations and the conservative agenda against women, blacks and LGBTs. The debate opened at the turn of the year on the repeal of the spending cap and labor reform anticipated the role of the ideological debate around the program, which will unite the right against the left's proposals.

The presidential campaign will be very tough and Bolsonarist forces will certainly use all means of fake news and provocations. Thus, it requires a broad unity of progressive forces, ability to organize at the grassroots, disposition for ideological dispute around the program and a leap in quality in the area of ​​communication, with a series of initiatives in different fields, under shared coordination with division of tasks to provide answers to the questions that will appear in the political process.

The initiatives to build popular committees, under debate in the PT, CUT, MST and in various popular movements, as well as in social and political forces, express the challenge of making the electoral campaign a process of organization, mobilization and reconnection with the popular layers , especially in large cities. The wear and tear of traditional campaigns, which sideline the role of militancy, and the formal shortening of election time raise the need to promote a prior process, which provides a political debate on the Brazilian crisis and organizes initiatives on concrete problems to reach the elections with consolidated committees and a working method.

The unity of the progressive field, forged since the formation of the Fora Bolsonaro campaign, quite broad in the field of parties, unions, popular movements and society's organizations, provides an important level for the political and ideological confrontation this year. Now, the debate on unity has gained institutional contours between the parties, with the creation of the legal institute of the party federation, which involves PT, PSB, PCdoB and PV.

The unity of the progressive field needs to be expressed in the process of organizing the popular committees and in an agenda of street mobilizations against the federal government and in defense of a program of changes, maintaining the spirit of social and ideological struggle in the first semester to create a favorable climate in the elections. The transition from the struggle against the current government to the electoral struggle contributes to putting the campaign-movement line into practice, with a greater role for grassroots work, popular struggle and programmatic debate.

The ideological dispute will take place, above all, in the debate on the diagnosis and the program to face the Brazilian crisis. In the ideological field, the right has greater unity, both in the fractions of the bourgeoisie, in its political expressions and in the mass media, around the neoliberal program. Thus, it is necessary to build a social force through the committees and articulate a political movement in society around a program of social changes, bringing together influential sectors, such as the university, the cultural environment, the legal field and the inter-religious movement. .

The evolution of the political scenario in the last period represents a change in the conjuncture for popular organizations, especially with the expectation of the federal government's resumption. Thus, the central task is to win the elections, elect Lula and candidates from the progressive field for parliaments and state governments. However, to change the correlation of forces, the challenge is to take advantage of the electoral battle to accumulate organizational strength, make the ideological dispute in society and support a new popular project for the country, to face neoliberal pressure and conservative forces to block the necessary changes since the campaign.

*Igor Felipe Santos is a journalist and social movement activist. He is host of the podcast Três por Quatro, from Brazil in fact.


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