PCO and the extreme right

Image: Mariano Ruffa
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By FRANCISCO FERNANDES LADEIRA*

The PCO is a political party whose objective is not necessarily electoral, but to serve the private interests of its president Rui Costa Pimenta

“The only candidate capable of defeating Lula is Jair Bolsonaro, hence the persecution.” The sentence that opens this article was shared by Jair Bolsonaro on his social networks. At first, it could be another of the ineligible former president's daydreams if it weren't for one detail that caught attention. The phrase – which insinuates an alleged persecution by the “system” of Jair Bolsonaro to favor Lula – was said by Rui Costa Pimenta, president of the Partido da Causa Operária (PCO), an organization classified by many as “extreme left”.

However, anyone who has followed the national political scene in recent years was not surprised. This is another stage in the PCO's discursive strategy to attract the far-right public. Apparently, it was very successful, given the positive repercussion of Rui Costa Pimenta's speech among the Bolsonarist bubble.

This does not mean agreeing with the so-called “horseshoe theory”, which is based on the fallacious argument that the extreme left and extreme right would be opposites of a linear and continuous political spectrum that approaches, in the same way as the end of a horseshoe.

To understand the reason for the (apparently paradoxical) interest of the PCO in the public from the opposite ideological spectrum, it is important to say a few words about the modus operandi of this party organization.

As Pedro Zambarda and Kiko Nogueira pointed out, in live do Diary of the Center of the World (DCM), the PCO is a political party whose objective is not necessarily electoral, but to serve the private interests of its president Rui Costa Pimenta. It is no coincidence that practically all of Pimenta's family holds positions in the party leadership.

If it were a company, there would be no problem employing relatives, but the PCO is a political party that, as such, receives public resources (Electoral Fund). Therefore, the party's bills, largely paid by all of us, are of national interest.

In almost three decades of existence, the PCO has only elected one councilor (in an alliance with the right, in the state of Amazonas, which party members are keen to hide). Apparently, the PCO does not prioritize the electoral victories of its staff, as candidacies are not rare (for trivial reasons, such as lack of documents) or campaign materials are delivered to candidates only after the electoral processes. “We did not enter the elections to win, but to denounce them”, says one of the mantras of the PCO candidates. It is a pure smokescreen to hide the party's real intentions.

In addition to the Electoral Fund, the PCO obtains financial resources through virtual raffles, collective financing, superchats on a YouTube channel and in the sales of printed newspapers, magazines and other products in its online store. Therefore, for the purposes of the PCO, “consumers” and “digital engagement” are more important than “voters” and “votes”.

In view of this, it is no coincidence that a large part of the PCO's speeches align with the Bolsonarist banners (whose supporters are very active on social media). Among the party's latest controversies are the campaign for printed votes, the denialist stance towards the Covid-19 pandemic, the denial that January 8th was an attempted coup and the defense of figures linked to conservative thinking, such as Monark, Maurício Souza, Daniel Silveira, Allan dos Santos, Robinho and Daniel Alves. In this flirtation with the extreme right, Rui Costa Pimenta's participation in the flow podcast, in the channel Art of War and on the program Pânico, from Young pan.

Another PCO strategy to obtain greater digital engagement (and consequently attract more potential “consumers”) are articles with sensationalist titles published in the party’s digital newspaper (Workers' Cause Diary). Some examples are categorical: “Taliban does more for women than hysterical feminists”, “Thank you, Trump”, “How Boulos’ antics led to 7×1 against Germany”, “Mandatory vaccine: an authoritarian and fascist reverie of the STF” and “Women’s struggle cannot be used as a battering ram against rights” (on the conviction of former player Robinho for rape).

In this way, the PCO is often in the spotlight, being the target of criticism from the left for its “friendly fire” and receiving rave praise from Bolsonarists. Greater digital engagement, greater possibility of profit. To paraphrase a well-known television program: “small party, big business”.

*Francisco Fernandes Ladeira is a doctoral candidate in geography at Unicamp. Author, among other books, of The ideology of international news (CRV). [https://amzn.to/49F468W]


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