Lula government's commitments

Image: Hilary Susan Osman


Lula government's drop in popularity: if it doesn't universalize access to rights it could get worse

Recent opinion polls have shown a panorama of the Lula government's loss of popularity. Firstly, as Brazil is an inexhaustible pit of problems, it is necessary to consider that any government that takes over is heir to an immensity of things that are priority problems for many people, but cannot be resolved in a year and two months of government. There is, therefore, an inevitable liability in the exercise of government in Brazil.

The second aspect concerns political polarization that will cause fluctuations that will depend on the influence of these anti-Lula sectors today organized under the umbrella of Bolsonarism at every opportunity.

The third aspect is the one that deserves the greatest concern: the diffuse feeling among the people or an important part of them of a breach of commitment on the part of the Lula government. What does that mean? The perception that the government will not include that priority problem, for which the vote for Lula was given, on the government's agenda. In other words, the perception that is already beginning to emerge that, in three years' time, everything will be as before in the Abrantes barracks once again. This diffuse perception, in fact, could be fertile ground for increasing the capacity of opportunist actions by the ultra-right.

Understanding this would allow the government to have some approaches, such as having a synergy with mayoral candidates where the municipal magnifying glass in the hands of these candidates and then these mayors, could play a role in diagnosing unmet needs and designing focused government programs. in seeking to resolve them, with the support of the Union.

State governors should also, even if elections for states are not held now, do the same. For example, how about improving and humanizing the police in the states we govern so that they don't continue killing the poor without asking?

Now, the loss of connection between the people and the government that intends to represent them and which generates unpopularity is a phenomenon that we could call “depoliticization”, a phenomenon whose responsibility (as the one who responds, not as the culprit, attention) is the government itself , as it has command of the field, even though the opposition forces, in the case of today's Brazil, fascism, can act in an opportunistic way, lying and spreading fake news.

In a very schematic way, to understand this process of politicization/depoliticization and try to build solutions, two general things, in a schematic way, politicize the people: (i) an ultra-right government doing the wrong thing, like the government of Tarcísio de Freitas who did so much that he was reported to the UN for the police massacres and (ii) a government in our country doing the right thing and in the current period I want to use the example, there would be many, as there are many good things being done, from the libraries planned for the complexes from Minha Casa Minha Vida.

Both situations are conducive to producing a correct reading of reality by the people: the government that does not represent me does the wrong thing and the one that represents me does the right thing.

On the other hand, two general things depoliticize the people: (a) a government in our countryside that does the wrong thing, and in this regard I want to highlight the example of the massacres and humiliations of black, poor and indigenous people by the police in states governed by our field and (b) the ultra-right forces doing the right thing, such as Bolsonarian city halls that offer mobility under a zero-fare regime.

Both situations make it difficult for the people to understand who is and who is not their representative, after all, in these examples, the government that represents me does the wrong thing and the one that does not represent me does the right thing...

Now, what we see in Brazil today in the light of this reading of the dynamics of the simple formation of political consciousness by the people, is an unleashed bloodletting of depoliticization due to actions and omissions of governance in our field that are due not only to the fact that the country cannot solve its problems at once and therefore produces frustrations, but above all the way in which social advances are constructed is random, disorganized and above all without focus on the issue of what is most strategic in the game: universal access to improvements .

For our analysis, let's take the case of the offer of new Federal Institutes (IFs) by the federal government, a measure that aims to improve the quality of public education and which should also have the power to politicize the people by making the right thing happen. by the right protagonist.

Apparently, the government will provide 180 new Federal Institutes. For a magnifying glass analysis, a question from the epidemiologist that I am: 180 Federal Institutes, do they represent a lot or a little?

Let's see: Brazil has, according to the 2023 school census, 7,7 million students enrolled in high school and in 2020, it had around 1,5 million students enrolled in 654 Federal Institutes, which represents around 2.300 students per Institute Federal.

If each new Federal Institute has 2.300 students, the 180 Federal Institutes will be able to offer 414.000 places, which will add to the 1,5 million places already offered at Federal Institutes. Let's recognize that this is an extraordinary number of places in a type of secondary education that, we can say, guarantees a quality standard comparable to that of the most advanced countries.

So, the sum between the new Federal Institutes that are on the horizon and those that already exist could reach practically two million places corresponding to around 25% of the total population of students enrolled and to be enrolled in secondary education.

Still, what does this mean? It means, at the end of the government, when advertising will be showing a true revolution in secondary education, that 75% of families will have their children enrolled in conventional schools and will be able to legitimately consider that propaganda as a lie, although, in fact, much has been done by the government. But there will be no point in saying that there are two million students in Federal Institutes, after all “my son is not included”.

And what is the “universality” strategy for access to these Federal Institutes? Let's look at this and then propose a new approach.

What the government proposes as a strategy for universal access is the entrance exam at the door of the Federal Institutes, competitions that will only pass the children of the people from slightly more organized families, as pointed out by Paulo Lins, author of the book City of God, which says that the children of the civil servant or the bus driver, who also live in the favela, leave the favelas through education, but not the child of the flanelinha.

And I will add two more things, the first is that these competitions will only be taken by students who live within a practical distance of these new Federal Institutes, which means that beyond a certain circle of physical distance, these Federal Institutes will be too far away. The second thing is that the Federal Institute is also a target, legitimate in fact, after all it is public, of an important portion of young people from the middle class.

Therefore, the maxim widely used by the government that says “study if you want a future” does not even allow entry into vacancies at Federal Institutes for the most studious because these vacancies are numerically insufficient and are distributed, without considering any effectively territorial logic of access, unlike the that occurs with health devices managed by the SUS that must comply with the constitutional dictate of universal access to health…

What to do?

It is necessary to understand that the example given here through the Federal Institutes could be used for other policies that are not designed for universality and must, obviously, be corrected in this regard, as this is a challenge that potentially involves the most fearsome roots of drop in the government's popularity attributable to broken expectations.

Now, with a High School model (the Federal Institute model) that occupies or will soon occupy 25% of those enrolled, the Federal Institutes would have everything to be defined by the Union in the federative pact with states and municipalities as the standard model for the universalization of a new High School with budgets from the Union, States and Municipalities and allowing Brazil a definitive leap towards offering a quality education standard compatible with what is offered in the most advanced countries in the world.

If the government did this, it could then build, with the states and municipalities, the calendar for converting these 75% of schools that are missing into new state IFs in what could be a Unified Secondary Education System.

If it did this, that family that has their child in a conventional school would understand that the government (a) cannot solve everything at once, but (b) is interested in their community and, if their children were not able to go to a school of this standard , your grandchildren will. The people are resilient and understanding.

There would be, not the manipulative ideology of the contest as a form of access, but the truth of a game in which society came to understand that there can be a long-term program in which the government that represents it does, is doing and will do the thing right, a concept that is the most powerful communication weapon that the government can have and that can, in fact, be understood without fuss, in the logic of the formation of a silent majority that understands and supports the long-term project.

This logic is not even new for the Brazilian State.

In 2023, the Unified Health System opened, according to the National Registry of Health Establishments (CNES), hundreds and hundreds of new health devices, which occurred in a territorialized, organic way and within the federative pact and included everything from the simplest offices isolated, to blood centers, polyclinics and hospitals.

The SUS does this within a territorial logic, meeting the dictates of universal access to Health and does so normally, technically, institutionally, silently and without fuss.

This does not mean that the propaganda of what is being done is not necessary, it is certainly necessary, but this propaganda will have greater power the more solidified the consensus is that the government builds a long-term project with an eye on emancipation and good being of the people. At the same time, this will also reduce the space for opportunist maneuvers by the ultra-right.

However, the Federal Institutes as a spasm and a silver bullet, 180 once and then it's over, and not as a long-term project that inspires a new institutionality for Secondary Education, perhaps have the opposite effect, that of an outright lie for 75% of families who have children enrolled in conventional schools, today with no chance of ceasing to be what they are. Let's be honest, what does this communicate to those who won't receive it?

This logic is the same for countless other policies, where the right protagonist did the wrong thing. The following come to mind: (a) the non-transfer of the nursing floor to philanthropic Long-Term Institutions for the Elderly because they are part of Social Assistance and not SUS; (b) the failure to realize that tackling the problem of the homeless population should motivate a government war effort and not a billion for actions that will not have the power to return normality to the lives of these Brazilians;

(c) the difficulty of building together with indigenous peoples a development project capable of transitioning those peoples to a life that combines complete national identity with contemporaneity, which is the only condition that those cultures that enrich ours can be long-lived... or (d) the lack in our field of any major initiative through the federative pact that would reverse the genocide of black people by the State all at once.

If the government comes up with long-term actions that can give citizens the certainty that what they don't have now they will have later on an agreed, known, respected calendar for which the government is accountable, I want to believe that the communication of these truths will be the smallest of problems.

If you act in spasms with silver bullets and speeches you will face unnecessary electoral stress that could, as is the global trend, return us to darkness.

For the left-wing middle class, for whom life is resolved, Lula's popularity can be fueled by ideas, among many others, such as expanding the number of Federal Institutes, and a cerebral adherence to shared democratic and altruistic values. . For this segment of society, which hegemons the government and social networks, the Lula government's problem is, therefore, solely one of communication. Let's change Pepper...

However, for those who depend on these achievements to survive, plan the future and have opportunities, the decision cannot be cerebral. And this segment represents the immense majority of the Brazilian people and is the target of manipulation by the ultra-right.

The criterion of truth for this segment concerns empirical questions of access to achievements and this way of forming opinions is not only as legitimate as those of the left-wing middle class, but is also incomparably more decisive.

Simply put, the reasoning is: if the people who form my closest circle of relationships, for whom I can have love, benefited from the initiative, it is true. Otherwise it may and legitimately not be validated.

In public policies, radical egalitarianism, whose loss Vladimir Safatle used to illustrate one of the proofs that lead him to conclude that the left is dead, is expressed as “universal access” to rights.

Either the government universalizes access to rights in an agreed manner on a workable calendar, telling the truth to the people about how and when each one will benefit, or we could be paving the way to defeat.

* Ion de Andrade is a physician, university professor and member of the BrCidades Network.

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