Party federations – a challenge from the left

Image: G. Cortez


A positive novelty and a challenge to Brazilian parties

The approval of the law on Party Federations was an outlier in the last reform of the electoral system. Designed to make the rules worse, the reform did not achieve votes to revert to proportional electoral coalitions or the ill-fated “district” that would bring about the end of parties and democracy and install the reign of economic power and personalism in Brazilian politics.

In force and in the process of being regulated by the TSE, the Institute of the Federation brings a positive novelty and a challenge to Brazilian parties, mainly in the field of the left, where the question of coherence, the true identity of the program and common objectives guides the possibility of action joint.

The new law is unprecedented and challenging in a country with more than 40 acronyms with parliamentary representation or in an organization already able to run.

By requiring, for the constitution of the Federation two or more parties, (a) national character without loss of sovereignty of each participant, (b) common program, (c) minimum unit for four years, (d) unitary lists and single leaderships of the elected benches, (and) the sum of individual and party votes for the composition of proportionality, the law establishes a historic challenge to the parties that claim to represent the workers, the oppressed people and fight for a socialist society.

The historical and strategic struggle of the socialists was and continues to be the search for unity to face the common enemy, capitalism and the forces that support it.

From the conjunctural and electoral point of view, the position is also justified. In the 2020 elections, the sum of votes from the left and center-left fields reached only 20 million votes (PT, PSOL, PC do B, PSB and PDT) in a universe of 150 million voters. The current party fragmentation makes any government difficult. The formation of more cohesive and programmatic blocks will also serve to give more governance and legitimacy to the government elected in 2022.

The search for unity, for the useful sum of all the votes for the parties and candidates, not only adds up, but also has the potential to multiply and attract sympathetic voters identified by the demonstration effect of unity. In this sense, it is not too much to remember that the performance clause created in 2017, now in 2022 for the Federal Chamber will be 2% of the electoral college.

The concrete example of this potential capacity is the permanent manifestation of the thousands who have marched with us in the great national days of struggle, with the social fronts and the trade union centrals and who claim the unity of our forces in the political dispute.

The party history in Brazil does not favor us with successful experiences in this sense and we are aware that the 2-round system helps fragmentation more than unity, as well as the importance of own candidacies for party strengthening. Even so, we think that these elements should be secondary in face of the crucial moment we are living in, where the common enemy demands, without a doubt, the unity of the democratic, popular and socialist field.

In this sense, the recent decision taken by the PT in Rio Grande do Sul is positive. Its State Board, meeting on November 25th, approved a resolution that takes the initiative and invites popular and socialist parties to a dialogue table to discuss the new situation created with the possibility of a party federation.

The new law is challenging parties with greater programmatic identity and that seek coherence and greater commitment in political alliances to govern. An important step towards the profound political reform that Brazil needs in order to strengthen its fragile democratic experience.

*Raul Pont is a professor and former mayor of Porto Alegre.


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