Should the PT support Guilherme Boulos in 2024 and not have its own candidacy?

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By LUÍS SERGIO CANÁRIO*

Support for Boulos cannot be taken as a fait accompli

Guilherme Boulos, from PSol, is given as the candidate for São Paulo mayoralty supported by the Workers' Party in 2024. It would be the first time since the redemocratization that the PT would not present a candidate for the most important mayoralty in the country. And the repercussions of this fait accompli are not good for the PT and could jeopardize the very survival of the party in the city. Maintaining a possible agreement signed between Guilherme Boulos and four party leaders could be fatal.

Shortly before the first round of the 2020 election, Lula, Gleisi Hoffmann, Fernando Haddad and Luiz Marinho, in conversation with Guilherme Boulos, closed an agreement in which, if he gave up the candidacy for governor and supported Fernando Haddad and Lula, the PT would not would launch a candidate for mayor in 2024 and support him. Naturally, Guilherme Boulos agreed. Neither the Municipal Directorate nor any of the party leaders in the capital took part in this conversation. Only PT candidates and national and state presidents participated. There were small comments here and there, but no significant pushback. And then the cake begins.

Lula wins, Fernando Haddad loses and Guilherme Boulos is elected federal deputy for São Paulo. Gleisi Hoffmann is also elected federal deputy for Paraná. Fernando Haddad becomes Minister of Finance and Luiz Marinho Minister of Social Security in the Lula government. All well arranged and with very large responsibilities. Life goes on.

Life went on until the subject of such an agreement appeared on the agenda of PT discussions in the capital insofar as, having overcome the 2022 election, it was time to think about 2024, in the traditional biannual electoral ballet. You leave an election thinking about the next one. In recent years, elections have been almost the sole focus of the PT. The dispute for institutional spaces has far surpassed mass work with the working class. Elected positions in the executive and in the legislature are today the main objective of the party. And working in parliamentary advisory services or in executive positions coveted by part of the militancy.

The end of the dictatorship brought back direct elections for mayors of capital cities. Since the first, in 1985, the party presented its own candidacy. And, except in 2020, competitive applications. Luiza Erundina (1988), Marta Suplicy (2000) and Fernando Haddad (2012) won the elections. The general picture is:

Between 1988 and 2012 the party had an average vote of 1.754.638 votes. Between 2016 and 2020 this average drops to 714.828 votes. A drop in party votes can be seen from 2012 onwards, culminating in the disaster of 2020.

The trajectory of PSOL, in turn, was:

A party with poor votes, until the explosion in 2020, in the wake of the poor PT vote. But even this meager PT vote was still much higher than the highest vote ever obtained by PSOL. Despite this difference in votes in the mayoral election, PT elects 8 councilors and PSOL 6. In the previous election, 2016, PT elected 9 councilors and PSOL only 2. The owner of this expressive vote, Guilherme Boulos, in the presidential elections of 2018 had 617.122 votes throughout Brazil and only 76.953 votes in the city of São Paulo. He multiplied his vote in the city by 14.

Guilherme Boulos is a militant who started in the student movement and in 2002 joined the MTST, becoming its best known leader. He did not join any party until 2018, when he joined PSol to run for president of the republic. Boulos' relationship with the PT was always dubious. Close enough not to miss the bridges, but far enough away not to get contaminated in the PT's bad moments. It was like this in 2014, when the MTST raised the slogan “No Vai Have Cup” and promoted demonstrations against the holding of the Cup. And in 2015, when the MTST heavily criticized the Dilma Rousseff government, in the midst of the construction process of the 2016 Coup. And more recently, its votes against projects presented by the PT, such as the Fiscal Framework. In the popular, Guilherme Boulos' relationship with the PT is based on biting and blowing.

Without detracting from the merits of the expressive vote he had in 2016, which leads to the 2022 vote for deputy, in 2016 he had the collaboration, which was not small, of part of the militancy, leaders and candidates for councilor of the PT. The dissatisfaction with the candidacy of Gilmar Tatto of a significant part of those who were defeated in the selection process, combined with the fact that he was not a good candidate, served as a screen for a stampede of PT supporters towards the candidacy of Guilherme Boulos. Some campaigned openly, others hid PT symbols in their campaigns. The fact is that this behavior served to raise votes for Guilherme Boulos. An atmosphere was created of putting aside the PT candidacy from the first round. Note that the PSol never supported the PT in the first round.

Why should PT support Guilherme Boulos and PSol in 2024 and not have its own candidacy? Why not expose this decision to party instances in the city? The past of both Guilherme Boulos and PSOL's relations with the PT does not recommend much. Neither was concerned about the arguments now being used to justify this support. Neither of them was ever worried about the repercussions that a PT defeat would have on the left or on the people.

They only decided to support PT in 2022 in a bargain that PSol has always condemned and condemns. Anyone who calls a meeting behind closed doors between a small number of people who make decisions on a controversial issue and without the participation of instances and party leaders in the city of negotiation is leveling the decision-making process of a party like the PT very low. . These practices are very close to centrão parties.

Support for Guilherme Boulos cannot be taken for granted. Implications of it need to be better discussed, beyond the purely electoral aspect. PT comes from a descent of the city. What does this support mean for the reversal of this trend? There are many unanswered questions. The main one is what is his program for the city? There are some controversial statements by him. What he thinks about central themes is still an unanswered question. What weight will the PT have in a future PSol management, given the deep anti-PTism that reigns in the party? The vice question itself, what is the profile of the best candidacy looking at medium and long-term needs? How will the campaign be conducted? What are the expectations of the councilors' slate? How will the campaign be financed?

There are many who say that fulfilling agreements is a moral duty. That this would tarnish the PT's image. Legitimate agreements, carried out by the party as a whole, passed through its instances, yes, it is essential that they are fulfilled, translates a political commitment. But is such a “deal” also morally defensible? Is it up to four people to go over internal democracy and decide for PT in the city? One more unanswered question.

And last, but not least, what real moves have Guilherme Boulos and the PSol been making to get closer to the PT? So far none.

*Luiz Sergio Canario is a PT militant and studying for a master's degree in political economy at UFABC.


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