The process of partisanship

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By FERNANDO NOGUEIRA DA COSTA*

partisanship refers to the act of becoming a supporter of something, without necessarily becoming a member of a party

An electoral process is a kind of laboratory for testing, in reality, the hypotheses elaborated by social scientists from all areas of human knowledge: politicians, sociologists and economists, among others. In the study of the Brazilian case, polarization was highlighted, as both candidates in the second round (former presidents) were extremists from opposite ideological poles – left and right – and the best choice was a “third way” candidate from center.

This political arithmetic has been proven to be false. For example, Ciro Gomes, by emphatically attacking Lula with the aim of attracting right-wing votes, only favored the “useful vote” in the anti-democratic militia capital instead of in the democratic Broad Front.

What is necessary for Brazilian society is politicization for the good, that is, the action or effect of politicizing in a process of making (someone or a group) capable of recognizing the importance of thinking or political action being conducted in a democratic manner.

Miguel Lago, renowned political scientist with an international career, in an article in Folha de São Paulo (31/10/22), disagrees with the hypothesis that the electoral strength of the extreme right candidate was due to him representing the conservative ideals of part of Brazilian society, concerned with the preservation of Christian and family values. “Bolsonaro is not conservative, much less represents Christian values. Political conservatism was built entirely in opposition to rupture and revolution. (…) Bolsonaro is an extreme right-wing revolutionary. Nothing in his speech relates to the Brazilian conservative tradition. On the contrary, it articulates emerging and insurgent forces present in our society: neo-Pentecostal religiosity, agro aesthetics and profile sociability”.

Neo-Pentecostal identity conditions all decisions, from the way of dressing, behaving, consuming and voting. The aesthetics of agribusiness would be a neocolonized copy of the cultural backwardness of the North American countryside with its rodeos, country music, agro is pop, agro is tech… As for the sociability of the profile, knowledge due to studies and reading has been replaced by ignorant opinion, when the uneducated find themselves in bubbles or echo chambers to assuage resentment and raise narcissistic self-esteem.

With the availability of the social network, the ignorant, nostalgic for the military dictatorship, found their peers! They lost the shame of manifesting themselves in public.

A commentary on the aforementioned article clearly records a crucial point of the discourse expressed in hate networks: part of an urban middle class resents not having studied at public universities, even though it paid to graduate from any UniEsquina. He resents not having obtained social mobility and therefore sees in the leftist intellectual the “morally and culturally superior” subject to be destroyed. Hence his terraplanism. He hates the cults. Adopt scientific denialism.

Will it be possible to prove these hypotheses with empirical evidence as required by the scientific method? For the measurement of opinions, on 26-27/10/2022, a Datafolha survey presented respondents with ten attributes and asked them to inform which candidate stands out the most in each of them. In general, former president Lula (PT) has a more positive image than the current president (PL).

On the question “which candidate most defends democracy”, the situation is in line with the voting percentages in the first round, with Lula with 48% of the mentions and Jair, with 44%. In the opposite situation, “which candidate most attacks democracy”, the retired captain, an exploiter of electoral spoils represented by the orphans of the military dictatorship, distances himself from Lula, respectively, having 50% and 39% of mentions.

In the table above, there is a notable correspondence between regional votes and opinions about who most defends and most attacks democracy. In the electoral choice it was 70% to 30% in favor of Lula and in the choice of the most democratic candidate, the wisdom of the northeasterners detected: 64% to 30% pro Lula. In contrast, ideological blindness prevails in the South, the only region where the majority (53%) have the opinion of the coup leader defending democracy more and 39% say he should attack more compared to 46% pointing to the Democratic opponent.

Partisanship refers to the act of becoming a supporter of something, without necessarily becoming a member of a party. The electoral process led to greater partisanship, as the preference for the Workers' Party was previously expressed by 23% of voters and no sympathy for the Liberal Party appeared, in a Datafolha poll, carried out in mid-September 2021.

In the aforementioned recent survey, the picture has changed a lot. A portion of 35% of Brazilians become PT sympathizers, including those who mention it by name (30%) and those who mention “Lula's party” (5%), without mentioning the initials. Among voters with primary education, 42% say they sympathize with the PT or the “Lula party”, falling to 33% with secondary education and 29% with higher education. This index remains at 44% among those with a family income of up to 2 minimum wages and progressively drops to 29% [2-5 SM], 21% [5-10 SM] and 22% [above 10 SM]. Study, get rich and get dumb?!

The importance of the PT having a national reach is reflected in the relationship of love (50% sympathy in the Northeast region compared to 24% in the South and 25% in the Midwest) and hate (26% rejection in the Northeast, 50% in the South and 48% in the Midwest). In the Southeast and North, the polarizations in terms of anti-party sentiments are smaller.

Since November 2021, the PL (“Centrão”) party shelter for the passing president to run for reelection, nominally, has the sympathy of 14% of voters, and 7% say they have sympathy for “Jair’s party” (although), but do not cite its initials or number. In total, 20% of voters today are sympathetic to the PL. In the family income ranges above 10 salaries, this index reaches 32% – and reaches 39% among entrepreneurs!

After all, who defines himself as “entrepreneur”? Truck drivers? Farmers? Tithe managers, collected from faithful believers, in temples?

Unlike all the other voters, classified by main occupation, 29% of businessmen think that Lula defends democracy more and 66% think that the captain who exploits the electoral market niche formed by the “orphans of the dictatorship” is the most democratic! Consistent with anti-PTism, 29% say that the retired captain attacks democracy more, while 61% say that Lula attacks it more!

However, the weight of entrepreneurs in the Sample Profile is only 3%, that is, considering the total of 156 million voters, it would be only 4,7 million. This is the beauty of a democratic political regime, where all citizens participate equally – directly or through elected representatives – in making and enforcing laws, exercising governance through universal suffrage.

As long as the monthly family income of 48% of voters is below 2 minimum wages, the poor “will call the shots”. Acting together, they obtain the majority of votes together with their Workers' Party sympathizing allies from other income brackets.

Entrepreneurs are only 1% in the Northeast and 2% in the North, against 7% in the Midwest, 4% in the South and also 4% in the Southeast. In the metropolitan regions, they are 4% and in the countryside, 3%. There are 5% of whites with a positive self-image as an entrepreneur, while 3% of pardos and 2% of blacks present themselves with such an occupation.

Class hatred and/or social/regional inequality explain the electoral result? After all, only 16% of businessmen who finance anti-PT opinion makers express sympathy for the Workers' Party and 66% reject it: these are entirely “off-the-curve” numbers, very different from other occupations. They choose (39%) to prefer “Bolsonaro’s PL or party”. Consistently, 17% of them reject it because it is a “party for hire”. Didn't he give PT ("Total Loss") to the extreme right fanatics? Unfortunately, not so much, not yet...

*Fernando Nogueira da Costa He is a full professor at the Institute of Economics at Unicamp. Author, among other books, of Support and enrichment network. Available in https://fernandonogueiracosta.wordpress.com/2022/09/20/rede-de-apoio-e-enriquecimento-baixe-o-livro/

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