The advance of the extreme right

Image: Paolo Durandetto
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By LISZT VIEIRA*

The visible growth of the right and the extreme right in Europe and the Americas is a fact that will impact Brazilian politics. However, the situation here does not seem catastrophic, at least for now.

1.

The visible growth of the right and the extreme right in Europe and the Americas is a fact that will impact Brazilian politics. Exogenous factors have always played a role in the domestic political situation of any country, especially in peripheral countries of the world's largest economies. In Brazil, however, the situation does not seem catastrophic, at least for now.

A DataFolha survey from March this year shows that 41% of those interviewed consider themselves PT supporters, and 31% consider themselves Bolsonar supporters. The graph below shows in detail the scale of political positioning.

Given these numbers, it is difficult to accept that the left is dead. Those who identify with PTism can be considered left-wing, without forgetting that many on the left do not identify with PTism. And those who identify with Bolsonarism are, of course, on the right, also remembering that there is a non-Bolsonarist right.

Thus, the thesis that the left is dead is more ideological than sociological. I would even say that the left has grown in Brazil in relation to data from decades ago. In the 1980s, the late political scientist Wanderley Guilherme dos Santos said that, in Brazil, 30% vote for the right, 30% vote for the left, and elections are decided by the remaining 40% that make up the floating electorate.

Quaest research released on March 6, 2024 points out that 51% of respondents approve the president's job Squid, While 46% disapprove. All the media highlighted the fact that Lula was falling, since in the last poll his approval rating was 54%.

By gender, Lula wins in the female electorate by 45% to 30%, and in the male electorate by 37% to 33%. In terms of region, the Quaest survey shows that approval of Lula's work is higher in the Northeast and Central-West/North, and worse in the South and Southeast. Among those interviewed in the Northeast region, 68% approve of the president's work, while 31% disapprove. In the Central-West/North there is a technical tie with a numerical advantage for those who approve of Lula: 50% x 47%.

According to the survey, the South region recorded the highest level of disapproval of Lula's work: 57% against 40% of those interviewed who approved. In the Southeast, 52% disapprove of the president, while 44% approve.

Voter behavior by family income is shown in the graph below.

It is interesting to compare the approval of the Lula Government with the approval of other presidents of Western countries. The approval of the US President, Joe Biden, fell in January this year from 40% to 38%, according to a Reuters/Ipsos survey released on January 31st.

In France, President Emmanuel Macron's popularity fell to 28% in March last year, mainly due to the pension reform. As of December 2023, 70% of the UK is against Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's government. In Germany, according to the research institute infratest-dimap, only 19% of voters are satisfied with Olaf Scholz. No German Federal Chancellor it was so unpopular since the institute began carrying out research in 1997.

The table below compares the approval of President Lula's government with that of other governments in Europe and the USA.


COUNTRY
PRESIDENT or PRIME MINISTER% APPROVALRESEARCH DATE
BRAZILSQUID51%March 2024
USABIDEN38%January 2024
FRANCEMACRON28%March 2023
UNITED KINGDOMSUNAK30%December 2023
GERMANYSCHOLZ20%December 2023

As can be seen, despite the media emphasizing the drop in popularity, Lula's approval rating is far above the approval of the European governments and the North American government. We took as an example only some European countries considered democracies, and left others aside due to difficulties in accessing data.

2.

None of the above should obscure the highly worrying fact of the advance of the far right in Europe and the Americas. In Europe, they are already in power in Italy, Hungary and Poland. They are advancing in Sweden, Finland, Greece, France, the Netherlands, Portugal and Germany where the far-right AfD party is paired with the SPD social democrats, tending to overtake them.

It is interesting to note that a large number of radical right parties – such as the League in Italy, Marine Le Pen in France and the Far Freedom Party in Austria, have traditionally had close ties with Moscow. As we know, Vladimir Putin expressly supports Le Pen in France and Donald Trump in the USA, who remains favorite for next November's elections, despite all the lawsuits against him.

The European Parliament election, which takes place in June, will be an important test. For the first time, opinion polls indicate that the extreme right leads voting intentions or presents significant results in some large European countries. If projections are confirmed, the extreme right will be the third largest political force in the European Parliament.

A frightening example is France where, according to Portland Communications, candidates from the two far-right parties can obtain up to 39% of the votes. Meanwhile, President Emmanuel Macron's center-right group aims for a result of just 14%. In the last French presidential election in April 2022, in the first round the liberal right (Macron) received 28% of the votes, the extreme right (Marine Le Pen) came in second with 23% and the left united in the Unsubmissive France coalition (Mélenchon ) came in third place with 20%.

The Socialist Party, which in the past elected François Mitterand as President, obtained, with its candidate Anne Hidalgo, just 1,7% of the vote. And the Communist Party, with candidate Fabien Roussel, won 2,3% of the votes. The PC and PS, far from the political strength of the past, suffered a transfer of votes to the right and the extreme right, whose growth in Europe and the Americas will certainly have an impact on Brazilian politics.

The personal prestige of the ineligible Jair Bolsonaro tends to fall with the, for now, threat of arrest, but nothing indicates that the extreme right will weaken. Some of the former president's heirs have already begun to dispute his political estate, with emphasis on the current governor of São Paulo.

It is good not to forget that the majority of businesspeople, especially those in agribusiness, parliamentarians and the military continue to support the extreme right. The municipal elections in November this year could be an indicator for the elaboration of political projections aiming at the 2026 presidential election. It will be a good moment to assess whether the current government's alliance policy will bear political fruit and whether the Lula government's conciliation policy with the market, the military and parliamentarians will be welcomed by the electorate or not.

*Liszt scallop 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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