Election – economy or ideology?

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By LISZT VIEIRA*

The current situation in the USA and also in Brazil can be considered sui generis, but it leaves many questions in the air

1.

The famous phrase “It’s the economy, stupid”, coined in 1992 by James Carville, then strategist of presidential campaign de Bill Clinton against George HW Bush, is threatened with losing its reign of recent decades. The current situation in the USA and also in Brazil can be considered “sui generis”, but it leaves many questions in the air.

Economist Marcelo Averbug, retired from BNDES, recently published in the newspaper The Globe a thought-provoking article showing, with data, the improvement in the North American economy. This improvement has important data. The annual rate of economic growth during the current presidential term has only been surpassed on four occasions in the last 24 years. Unemployment is at 3,7%, a historically low level. Over the last three years, 17.973.000 jobs were created, while in the government's first three-year period Donald Trump 7.994.000 were created.

The way Biden faced the pandemic and its economic effects contributed to national tranquility and the resumption of expansion of the TAX ID No. Inspired by New Deal by Franklin Roosevelt, mobilized the government to encourage investments in infrastructure, clean energy and technological research, in addition to stimulating industry. At the international level, Joe Biden is paying a high price for military support for the genocide of Palestinians committed by the Israeli government. But, in domestic politics, the economy is doing well and even before the massacre of the Palestinians, Joe Biden was already doing badly.

Despite economic advances, Joe Biden is behind Donald Trump in electoral polls. Despite being sued in court, Donald Trump appears as the favorite in the American election next November and everything indicates that he will win the election. Many factors can be adduced to explain this, but Donald Trump's favoritism aligns with the advance of the extreme right in the world.

2.

Something similar is happening with the Lula government. The economic advances are clear, but they are not perceived by a large part of the electorate, intoxicated with the fake news and with daily propaganda on social media and even in the mainstream press. Higher GDP, lower inflation. O Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has already grown 3,2% compared to the same period last year, according to IBGE. The dollar remained below five reais. With regard to Reserves, Jair Bolsonaro lost US$66 billion in four years, and Lula increased US$14 billion in 70 days.

The level of unemployment fell to the lowest level since 2015, according to IBGE. The main reason was the growth of informal work, which pays lower wages and contributes less to sustainable economic growth. Brazilians' labor income has risen the most since the Real Plan. The increase reaches 11,7% in 2023 due to greater public spending.

It is true that there was an increase in the price of some foods, but until the time of the research this increase was probably little noticed. Inflation in January was 0,42%, driven mainly by the rise in food prices, caused by weather factors. In January, the food and beverage group rose 1,38%. This means a weight of 0.29 percentage points in the IPCA.

More important is the feeling of abandonment of the peripheral population – black, white and brown – who see their homes flooded by floods every year, with almost total loss of their property. For these people, there is no important difference between the current government and the past. They are not concerned with the parallel Abin and other superstructure issues, they are entirely dedicated to seeking survival stratagems.

Another issue with ideological weight is the problem of criminal violence and security, which leads many people to support the far-right discourse of “shoot first and ask questions later”, “a good criminal is a dead criminal”, resulting in the deaths of innocent people. in favelas and peripheral neighborhoods.

Alongside the economic factor, whose advances are not perceived by the marginalized population, we have an important segment of the middle class that only gets information through social media and identifies with conservative values ​​such as machismo, homophobia, racism, etc. They are against the voluntary termination of pregnancy, same-sex marriage, etc. We are facing a doctrinal, extra-economic issue here.

They are against abortion in the name of the right to life, but, after birth, they don't care if the children die of hunger. Marriage is a civil contract between two adults, regardless of religion, gender, political orientation or favorite football team. The rejection of abortion and same-sex marriage points to a doctrinal issue, with religious influence.

An important political instrument of indoctrination is the “anti-system” speech. Young people, with fewer and fewer possibilities for employment in the labor market, are very sensitive to attacks on the system to “change everything that is there”. It is not said how, there are no political, economic, cultural or any other projects. Change can improve or worsen, as we see now in Argentina, where Javier Milei received a significant vote from young people, and we had already seen it in Brazil during the last government. It is good not to forget that Lula is now the system, he makes agreements from above and often grants advantages to already privileged sectors, all in the name of governability.

On the other hand, Pope John Paul II, by destroying Liberation Theology, with the support of Cardinal Ratzinger, future Pope Benedict XVI, opened the way for the Pentecostal and neo-Pentecostal evangelical movement, of North American origin. Prosperity theology is the doctrinal banner of neo-Pentecostal evangelicals, recently “enriched” with dominion theology. The faithful must destroy their adversaries, seen as enemies of God. The recent advance of so-called “Christian Zionism” is linked to this new theology of dominion.

In view of this, only long-term groundwork can reverse this belief and support from the faithful and a large part of the middle class for far-right politicians, with whom they identify mainly for conservative values, and not for economic proposals or projects. politicians. Possibly, these conservative values ​​and hatred began to influence voter behavior more than the economy.

The current Lula Government's tone of seeking a consensus with the right for conciliation and distribution of senior positions in the State apparatus contributes to governability in the short term and facilitates, in some cases, the approval of the government's agenda in Congress. But, in the medium and long term, it could be counterproductive, contributing this year to the victory of right-wing candidates in the next municipal elections, which will serve as a base of support for an eventual victory of the right or extreme right in the 2026 presidential election.

With the advance of the extreme right around the world, symbolized by Donald Trump's favoritism in the US presidential elections, the possibility of a victory for the extreme right or the right in Brazil is a hypothesis that cannot be ruled out and demands to be faced.

*Liszt Vieira is a retired professor of sociology at PUC-Rio. He was a deputy (PT-RJ) and coordinator of the Global Forum of the Rio 92 Conference. Author, among other books, of Democracy reactsGaramond). [https://amzn.to/3sQ7Qn3]


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