No one deserved a debate like this

Image: David Dibert


No one in their right mind is unaware that the presidential election will be decided between Lula, a moderate reformist left-wing leader, and Bolsonaro, a hallucinatory neo-fascist.

“Doubled is the danger of those who flee from the enemy” (Popular Portuguese proverb).

 The bad news is that, after the first debate, the probability that the October presidential elections will be decided in a second round has increased. The most relevant aspect of the first presidential debate was not Bolsonaro's misogynistic lack of control, Lula's tergiveness in order not to increase the rejection rate, Simone Tebet's “performance”, Felipe D'Ávila's anti-statist exaltation, or the delirium of single tax by Soraia Thronicke.

“Technical” analyzes of each candidate's performance, when they are not contextualized by the relationship of forces, and by the class interests that explain the struggle for power, are, politically, dilettantes. What is in dispute is immense, dramatic and very dangerous.

No one in their right mind is unaware that the presidential election will be decided between Lula, a moderate reformist leftist leader, and Bolsonaro, a hallucinatory neo-fascist. The country is divided politically and socially. Lula is the favorite, but Bolsonaro expresses a far-right candidacy with mass influence. What matters is whether it will be in the first or second round. It turns out that, if it is in the second round, the danger of coup threats increases disproportionately.

What will really matter in the next five weeks will be the role of Ciro Gomes. Ciro plays a dangerous role in these elections. The relevant, crucial, fundamental question is that Ciro Gomes is today the biggest obstacle for Lula to win in the first round. The intention of votes that she still holds will be decisive for whether or not there is a second round. If the majority of the approximately five million who sympathize with Ciro Gomes choose to vote for Lula to guarantee Bolsonaro's defeat, there will be no second round.

These elections are not normal. A neo-fascist occupies the presidency and will seek re-election. Those who do not understand this have understood nothing, absolutely nothing that has happened in Brazil since 2016. Bolsonaro's strategy is to guarantee, yes or yes, that there is a second round, which at this moment is uncertain. Bolsonaro's plan is to prepare for the coup mobilization of September XNUMXth to intimidate justice, terrorize the left and conquer an electoral drag that will guarantee his presence in a second round.

If he is defeated in the first round, Bolsonaro will not be able to organize, with the same ease, audience and authority, a denunciation campaign that the election was rigged, and set in motion the mobilization of his most radicalized social base in the exasperated middle classes. He will not be able to, because the October XNUMXnd elections are general elections. All governors, the entire Chamber of Deputies and a third of the Senate will be elected, as well. Among them, not a few Bolsonarists. In Bolsonaro's strategy, it is essential to take the presidential race to the second round. Therefore, for Bolsonaro, the candidacy of Ciro Gomes is, objectively, functional.

Lula does not need 50% plus one of the votes in the first round to win. Just have more valid votes than the sum of all other contestants. At this moment, Lula can win in the first round. What would be of decisive importance, given Bolsonaro's successive threats to the electoral process, the constant counterrevolutionary mobilization in the streets, from September 7th to May 1st, and the Bonapartist project of imposing a historic defeat on the working class and oppressed allies .

“Say, mirror of mine, is there anyone more honest than me? My mirror says, is there anyone more prepared than me?” These jokes are very common when it comes to Ciro Gomes, candidate for the fourth time for the presidency of the Republic. Ciro Gomes is an intelligent leader who impresses with his articulation and controversial skills. These personal qualities explain his performance in the first debate of the 2022 elections. But they do not clarify his obtuse insistence on presenting himself as a “third way” candidate.

Stubborn and messianic, he is a caudillo in search of a “destiny”. Obstinate and personalistic, the PDT is the seventh party for which it runs in elections. Messianic and even half Bonapartist, he seeks to explain the viability of his developmentalist promises in the symbolic force of the presidential office. The appeal of Ciro Gomes' speech rests on the promise of a political “pacification” that is not possible until the neo-fascist threat is defeated. But Ciro Gomes has already made it clear that he does not consider there to be any immediate and real danger.

He argues that, if elected, he will resign from the re-election race for a second term and, with this gesture, he could guarantee support in the National Congress for his proposals. Despite the inexcusable episode of the trip to Paris in 2018, it still awakens a disconcerting fascination on a portion of the left-wing people who admire its frontal style, and harbors some degree of criticism, by the right, center and even the left, towards the PT.

Some feed the naive idea that Ciro Gomes would be placed “to the left” of Lula. This type of evaluation depends on the “ruler”, that is, on the criteria. In a Marxist evaluation, therefore, guided by class criteria, this opinion is indefensible. When considered circumstantial opinions, it is something impossible to know, because the two are in "perpetual" movement.

But, there is a very important difference. Lula played an irreplaceable role in building the PT, preserving organic relationships with the main social movements, while Ciro is an erratic professional politician.

The attraction that Ciro exerts on a portion of the salaried middle strata with medium and high schooling, leaning to the left, is significant. It cannot be explained only by the frustrations of the experience of the thirteen years of Lula and Dilma Rousseff governments. Ciro Gomes presents himself as a third way, defending a developmentalist project inspired by the idea that a capitalism regulated by the expansion of the internal market, boosted by the expansion of cheaper credit for consumption and investment, can boost growth with social justice and fiscal responsibility. He insists, obsessively, too, on the “clean hands” profile and has an appeal.

But Ciro Gomes' strategy does not seem to be the serious dispute of the 2022 election, although the degree of narcissistic self-deception should never be underestimated. Even in Ceará he is in third place, with less than 10%. Ciro Gomes' realistic objective cannot but survive. He aims to maintain positions and occupy a place for whatever comes in 2026, or even later. It is a personalistic calculation that rests on the assessment that, even though it is not competitive now, it still has time for the future.

No Ciro, it's not personal at all.

*Valério Arcary is a retired professor at IFSP. Author, among other books, of No one said it would be Easy (boitempo).


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