Lula's resurgence

Image: Luiz Armando Bagolin
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By WAGNER ROMÃO*

Lula's resurgence as a candidate in 2022 has brought some sanity to the political environment and moved the tectonic plates of politics

Everything that happens in the political game in these terrible days is related to the coronavirus pandemic. This week, we reached the milestone of 300 lives lost and political agents have been different in terms of how they deal with the pandemic and their personal attitude towards it.

It was not by chance that Lula, in his interview two weeks ago, took every precaution regarding the use of masks, gel alcohol, at the beginning of his interview, setting the example of how to avoid contagion.

In his speech, Lula gave an explicit message to various sectors of society, from the military to businessmen, to place himself as an alternative to this irresponsible, morbid, authoritarian, disqualified adventure called Jair Bolsonaro, which was benched in 2018 by the political field. and economic system that continues to dominate the country.

One of the effects of Lula’s resurgence as a candidate in 2022 was to bring some sanity to the very degraded political environment we have been living in since at least the 2014 elections and which has become more acute in this period of triumphant Bolsonarism. And the tectonic plates of politics began to shift.

The first element to highlight last week was the letter signed by hundreds of doubles from economists, bankers, former presidents of the Central Bank and former finance ministers who link the fight against the pandemic to the recovery of the economy. The letter listed four urgent measures – which for months have been claimed by the leftist camp, by the sectors responsible for public health and by civil society: 1) acceleration of the pace of vaccination; 2) encouraging the use of a mask; 3) the implementation of social distancing in earnest – including the need to evaluate the adoption of a national or regional lockdown (without a clear defense of this, certainly something that splits the group); and 4) the creation of a national coordination to combat the pandemic, under the initiative of the Ministry of Health but which, if this were not feasible, could be carried out by the states and municipalities.

Those who embarked on the Bolsonaro candidacy in 2018 now, quite late, a year after the start of the pandemic, realize their lukewarmness, their weakness and their incompetence and seek to create a political alternative. Bolsonaro, who days ago demonstrated political strength by electing Rodrigo Pacheco and Arthur Lira to the presidencies of the Senate and the Chamber, has already become a hostage of these figures with the astonishing increase in the number of cases and deaths caused by Covid-19.

The leaders of the so-called Centrão have been articulating with this layer of the business community that has noticed Bolsonaro's incompetence not only in managing the pandemic, but above all in the political unfeasibility of deepening the neoliberal reforms promised by today's zombie minister Paulo Guedes.

Lira and Pacheco set themselves up as leaders who can put the ball down, fight the root Bolsonarismo olavista, minimize the losses of the pandemic and bring back the “normality” of the neoliberal agenda. They have already shown that they are capable of this with the approval of PEC 186, a fiscal adjustment package disguised as the resumption of emergency aid.

In this internal confrontation between the government base and itself, the final pursuit of the “jenio” of Pazuello logistics took place, and now Ernesto Araújo, the valiant fighter of Chinese communism, head of the Tupiniquim white supremacist Felipe Martins, is being hunted. And, let's wait, the departure of Ricarco Salles, the anti-curupira minister, may materialize.

Bolsonaro, even carrying the mark of 300 deaths, is still a strong name for 2022, he has his band – for now faithful – of 20% of fans, which is no small feat in a scenario of political fragmentation. And he has the federal government machine. Centrão acts to displace the incompetent icons of root Bolsonarism and bring to the government people who have minimal capabilities to respond to the pandemic.

Then came the attempt to bring cardiologist Ludhmila Hajjar to the Ministry of Health. Bolsonaro accepted the exchange in the ministry but rejected the Centrão solution, bringing Marcelo Queiroga to the ministry. This one, it seems, has much more political resourcefulness than General Pazuello. In this sense, he can be a less toxic Bolsonarist, with a more appeasing attitude that is in line with the strategy of Lira and Pacheco.

Lira's strong speech on Wednesday, March 24, was a clear threat to Bolsonaro:

“I'm pushing a yellow light today, for anyone who wants to see it. We are not going to continue here voting and following a legislative protocol with the commitment not to make mistakes with the country, if out of here primary errors, unnecessary errors, useless errors, errors that are much smaller than the successes continue to be practiced. The political remedies in parliament are known and they are all bitter, some fatal. They are often applied when the spiral of evaluation errors reaches an uncontrollable geometric scale. This is not the intention of this Presidency. We prefer that the current anomalies heal by themselves, fruits of self-criticism, survival instinct, wisdom, emotional intelligence and political capacity. But, I warn you that, among all Brazilian ills, none is more important than the pandemic. But that doesn't just depend on this House. It also depends, above all, on those outside of here who need to have the sensitivity that the moment is serious, solidarity is great, but there is a limit to everything, everything. And the limit of the Brazilian parliament, the house of the people, is when a minimum of common sense towards the people is not being obeyed”.

This speech by Lira took place shortly after the convescote of friendly governors that Bolsonaro set up on Tuesday and which took place on Wednesday morning, to discuss the fight against the pandemic, a year after its beginning.

To complete, another actor who was half hidden came back to light this Friday, the 26th, with Butanvac, the vaccine that will be manufactured by the Butantã Institute. João Doria tries to remain positioned in the political turmoil, doing his pandemic marketing and relying on the power that are the scientific public institutions of the state of São Paulo, although he maintained the tucana policy of scrapping most of them and not replacing retired employees , in addition to the extinction of Fundap (still with Alckmin) and the Forestry Institute, of the Endemic Diseases Control Superintendence (Sucen), among others. It will try to stay alive politically as an alternative to Bolsonaro and Lula, in a context that is still very confusing because we do not know exactly what will happen with the pandemic, if the root Bolsonarism will quietly endure the Centrão harassment, and also without knowing how long Bolsonaro himself will sustain this more constrained stance he has adopted since Lula's return two weeks ago.

What about Lula? And the lefts?

Lula had his victory over Sergio Moro confirmed last Tuesday at the session of the 2nd Panel of the STF, with the show by Gilmar Mendes and the Bolsonarist vote by Nunes Marques against Moro’s suspicion, a nod to the reluctant lavajatistas. Moro is an officially suspect and partial judge and Lula's process is back to square one.

The left must continue to pressure the National Congress for the impeachment of Bolsonaro, for all his crimes. It's not something very close on the horizon, but this week showed - with the speech of Arthur Lira - that impeachment can become a flag of the Centrão and then, bye, bye Bolsonaro. It is clear that there is a game of political rhetoric here, but the warning has been given. Centrão will not ease up with Bolsonaro, especially if he understands that staying with Bolsonaro is worse for his political goals.

But, the left field needs to produce its program. It cannot just be an anti-Bolsonaro program, to rebuild the destruction caused by him, although that is already a lot and will take a lot of work. And, much less, it cannot be a reissue of the 2002 program. The left program needs to go further. It's up to us to write it.

*Wagner Romao is professor of political science at Unicamp and former president of the Unicamp Faculty Association.

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