The rearrangement of the democratic field

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By GERSON ALMEIDA*

To advance in the accumulation of forces, it is necessary to build a programmatic identity that goes beyond the reaction to the actions of the ultra-right

Politically, the first year of the Lula government began on January 8th – when the Bolsonarist attempt tried to create conditions to impose a forceful solution and break the democratic pact in Brazil – and ended with the approval of the tax reform and the appointment of Paulo Gonet Branco for the PGR and Flávio Dino for the STF. Not bad for a government that, from the beginning, acts within a narrow margin of maneuver and suffers a rigorous siege from enemies strongly entrenched in the leadership of some of the main economic and financial sectors, whose interests are zealously defended by the majority in Congress. 

But it is equally true that the year 2024 began with the approval of the 2024 Annual Budget Law, which allocated a scandalous R$53 billion for parliamentarians' discretionary amendments and subtracted R$61,3 billion from the total initially foreseen for infrastructure works and housing of the “Novo PAC”, one of the main brands in the government. By negotiating each proposal with a “knife in the neck” from the government, the right shows that it is determined to try to prevent the expansion of the government’s freedom of action. This clash highlights the government's difficulty in untying the set of political and institutional knots imposed on the country following the 2016 coup.

In this context, it is notable that the government ended this first year with a standard of social, political and economic stability that was unimaginable at the beginning of the year, after the attempt to repeat the 2016 coup on January 8. The most savage impulses of the right and their determination to resolve political issues with sticks, stones and bombs were contained by the recomposition of a democratic field in the country, but they are far from having been completely sublimated and permanently show signs of only being in a state of latency, waiting for the appropriate opportunity.

The rearrangement of the democratic field, however, seems to have been carried out more as a reaction to the narrowing of the core of power in the Bolsonaro government, which gradually gave greater powers to the family, the military in its surroundings and the fractions of economic power, whose borders with crime are difficult to trace. Examples are some agribusiness sectors that prosper with the advance on the Amazon forest and the poisoning of Brazilian agriculture, the mining sector in indigenous lands, business sectors eager to eliminate any type of protection for workers, etc.

This narrowing of the coup camp would not have occurred without the resistance of social movements and the political capacity of left-wing parties to fight against civilizational regressions and show that there was an alternative to neoliberalism. It was this social and political resistance that created the conditions for a rearticulation of the democratic field, even though immense difficulties still remain to be overcome, especially due to the absence of a consistent programmatic agreement for the period.

In the process of reorganizing the political fields, there was a symbol that added invaluable value to the field of resistance, which was Lula's stance in not accepting any bargain that would lead him to leave prison under supervision. Never recognizing the legitimacy of the process and the sentence imposed on him, Lula never tired of stating that “I would not exchange my dignity for my freedom”. This gesture gave unique moral grandeur to his already consolidated political leadership and prevented any arrangement that would exclude the camp he led from the leading role in national political life, as was the desire of the coup camp.

To a large extent, it was during the electoral process itself that the political fields were being reorganized, which makes it understandable that the priority in this first year of government was to work on the delicate task of expanding the cohesion of the political and social support base and, at the same time, at the same time, prevent the possibility of recomposing the 2016 coup camp. It is not little, but it is insufficient.

In order for us to advance in the accumulation of forces, it is necessary to build a programmatic identity that can go beyond the reaction to the actions of the ultra-right (however important this may be) and produce commitments around the fight against inequalities and human ills produced by the model neoliberal predator, which is the breeding ground for all types of proto-fascism and salvationism. We won the first one by points round of this decisive fight, even if the opponent used all the low blows, but in the next ones we have to knock out the coup once and for all. That is our challenge.

*Gerson Almeida, sociologist, former councilor and former secretary of the environment of Porto Alegre, he was national secretary of social articulation in the Lula 2 government.


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