electoral strength

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By IGOR FELIPPE SANTOS*

Lula overcomes persecution and consecrates himself by defeating Jair Bolsonaro’s “anything goes”

The election of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) in a bitter dispute against current President Jair Bolsonaro (PL) is the most important victory of popular forces in the last decade. After the right's brutal offensive to destroy the left and implement an ultraneoliberal program, Lula will return to the presidency with a broad and heterogeneous alliance.

The result of the elections confirms Lula's electoral strength and deep identity with the Brazilian people. Only the greatest popular leadership in the history of Brazil could win this dispute. After all the moral defamation, political, media and judicial persecution, unfair imprisonment for 580 days, he unified popular forces, rescued the trust of militancy, infected society and built a broad national alliance.

Militancy played a fundamental role in the victory, with actions of agitation, grassroots work and mobilization, especially at rallies and walks with Lula. The popular committees, built even before the elections, had the important role of designing an organizational structure and consolidating a calendar of political agitation actions, which moved militancy around Lula's election. At the opening of the electoral period, the political process intensified and gained momentum around the campaign of candidates for deputy. In the second round, despite the expressive vote of Jair Bolsonaro, it infected all of society that got involved in different ways to elect Lula.

Jair Bolsonaro took as much as he could, even if illegally, the use of public money and lies as a method of manipulation in an election that took place under very unequal conditions. The scale of use of the public machine occurred in an unprecedented way in a presidential dispute. The use of national finance via secret amendments allocated R$ 44 billion this year, which irrigated city halls and ghost companies in the Northeast that financed the campaign across the country. Only in the “tranche” released in September, on the eve of the elections, R$ 3,5 billion went into the hands of congressmen allied with the current president. The electoral expansion of Auxílio Brasil, with the increase in the base of beneficiaries and the amount of payments, distributed R$ 35 billion to manipulate the result.

The profound political-ideological struggle imposed by the Bolsonarist current led to an escalation of lies (the so-called fake news) on social networks and on radio and TV programs, managing an ultraconservative agenda. There are indications that these actions had the foreign advice of Steve Bannon, with external resources for the payment of advertisements on Google, YouTube and Facebook. The president of the TSE, Alexandre de Moraes, minister of the STF, acted to curb the “hate office”. He articulated restrictions with platforms, took down channels, pages, groups and profiles that spread fake news and called Carlos Bolsonaro, the person responsible for articulating the president's networks, to give a statement. Even so, it did not end the problem of fake news, which found fertile ground in Brazilian conservatism.

Many Pentecostal pastors and conservative priests have turned their pulpits into Jair Bolsonaro's electoral committees. They made fanciful preaching against communism, in the name of God, family and property. In addition, accusations of electoral harassment by bosses to blackmail workers exploded. There were 2.556 complaints this year, 12 times more than in 2018. Almost 2 companies were reported, most in the Southeast region, especially in Minas Gerais.

Lula has built a broad alliance since the first round. He unified the field on the left, attracted the center and focused on fringes on the right. It took artists, intellectuals, athletes and personalities to the campaign, who made an effort to end the dispute in the first round. In the second round, he brought together most of the opposition to Jair Bolsonaro, building the greatest political alliance around the democratic struggle. Thus, it affected fractions of the bourgeoisie, expressed in the adherence of the old toucan caciques and the creators of the Real Plan.

The second round of the election was decided on the details, in a dispute that ended with a difference of just over 2 million votes. The clash, to a certain extent, happened blindly, with the discredit of opinion polls after the first round. Attacks by campaigns on both sides lowered the level a lot, including during election time on TV and radio. With the “beat and take” tactic, Lula’s campaign came out of passivity and forced Bolsonarism to defend itself. In the final stretch, the wear and tear of “painted a climate” with minors, the shots and grenades thrown by Roberto Jefferson against federal police and, especially, Paulo Guedes' statements on economic issues may have been decisive.

The Brazilian “southern issue” was expressed in the large advantage of 12 million Lula in the Northeast. In the other regions, Bolsonaro won, with a more significant difference in the South and Midwest. Of the votes added by the PT in the second round, 60% (1,75 million) were won in the Southeast, which was the region where Bolsonaro shrank the most compared to the 2018 election.

In elections for state governments, the victory of Tarcísio de Freitas (PR), Bolsonaro's minister, demonstrated the strength of conservatism in the interior of São Paulo, a counterpoint to the progressive trench in the capital and in the metropolitan region, which gave a majority to Lula and Haddad. In Bahia, PT Jerônimo Rodrigues won in a tough dispute with ACM Neto. In Rio Grande do Sul, Pernambuco and Mato Grosso do Sul, the PSDB elected governors and gained a survival after waning in the election for the National Congress.

Lula's victory represents a change in the balance of forces within institutions. The resumption of government gives the president instruments to reorganize the political framework and articulate economic segments to build a political and social force to advance with a project of social changes. However, the government will face a radical opposition under the leadership of the extreme right. With a willingness to carry out street mobilizations, as shown by the roadblocks after the elections, the Bolsonarist current consolidates itself in the right-wing field with the 58 million votes obtained by Bolsonaro.

The implementation of an emergency program to solve the people's serious problems and the debate of a new project for the country will depend, above all, on the capacity for popular organization and struggle of the working class and the consolidation of instruments to face the intense ideological struggle. Thus, advance in the implementation of a program capable of unifying sectors and concentrating political and social strength to make changes in politics and the economy.

*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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