Small change of situation

Image: Cyrus Saurius


Brief analysis of the elections in Brazil and Maranhão: Bolsonaro's victory and Flávio Dino's defeat

“Each concrete reality, a concrete analysis” (Lenin)

The intention of this text is to understand a little the scenarios that are designed in Brazil after the 2020 election.

In his writings on the “History of the Communist League” (1885) Engels recalls that he and Marx joined the Communist League when moralistic tendencies could be defeated, moralistic criteria such as being or not a smoker, being or not being a vegetarian, being or not favorable to to communities of women, etc., were replaced by the political debate of the concrete and the real.

It was not agreements with subjective questions, but agreement on the program and the real policy and concrete action, dating from this effort the construction of the famous Communist Manifesto and the constitution of a political action plan in the Spring of the Peoples.

We draw attention to the growth of a certain moralist and identity discourse (not infrequently liberal), which dominates the scene of progressive and left-wing debates, where one of the most dramatic moments occurred in Djamila Ribeiro's comments about Letícia Parks, on the program Roda Viva (09/11/2020) where all that was missing was the creation of a “racial purity” exam to define who could and could not speak in the names of black men and black women, as well as seeing Sisyphus’ efforts in projects of collective identity mandates, to discuss how to explain the importance of “genderless pronouns” in the outskirts of big cities.

The issue of identity, and here, we thought of analyzing that of an ethnic order (since we have many - place of birth, gender, football team - dissociated from class identity, does not present us with anything very innovative, when we think about overcoming the capitalism. That is, the anti-racist struggle is urgent, anyone with the slightest sense of humanity, common sense, is against the genocide of black people, especially young people and children who are killed in the peripheries or direct and / or indirect action of the (private and) armed wing of the State. We remember with horror and indignation the two children killed by stray bullets (could it be?) while they were playing in the doorway of the house; the boy Miguel, discarded by his mistress in the elevator as if he were an animal. About the murder brutality of a customer at the Carrefour supermarket. The coincidence between them: the color of their skin. All these facts fill us with compassion, anger and indignation.

We cannot completely ignore the fact that racism permeated society is part of a “racist culture”: there are hundreds of jargons, popular sayings, etc., that place blacks in a particular situation of experience that permeates class relations; but we cannot dissociate racism, first from capitalism and second, from belonging class. The same equation for the gender issue. The importance of combating machismo and misogyny is increasingly striking. In 2019, Brazil had 3.739 cases of intentional homicides of women, of which 1.314 were feminicides, that is, the crime was motivated by the fact that they were women. Let us insist on the fact that the struggle focused on “identity” is extremely important in this scenario. In Brazil people die for being a woman, gay and even more if they are black. But it is necessary to make the relation between race and class, gender and class if we want to understand this social structure and even more if we want to overcome it. We believe it is a great advance, having black women mayors and councilors (all types of discrimination is condemnable), but dissociating from class does not solve, on the contrary, it deepens the gap even more.

Let's analyze here, data from the last election for mayors and councilors. When we cross gender and race (for a more complete analysis, it is necessary to have other data such as schooling and income), we see that the issue is more complex. That is, women are white, brown and black (self-declaration) are in right-wing, extreme right or center parties. Which is a contradiction in itself. That is, women are, in the majority, in Political Parties that vote against their interests. And the issue of race? It's the same reading. It fits here, a small explanation that we are considering the self-declaration. In self-declaration, there is a risk that the person declares himself to be brown, for example, so that the party meets the politically correct quota of having black candidates in its ranks. The question of “identity” becomes urgent and extremely necessary, as an agenda of the left. When dissociated from the class perspective, more of the same is reproduced. Advances? Undeniably, having trans women, trans men, black men and women in parliament with specific agendas is not to be despised. The question, however, that poses us is how much it contributes to the organization and advancement of workers' struggles.

The panorama of the 2020 elections is an important alert for the discussion we are having. Compared to the 2016 elections, men were elected 86,5% and women 13,5%. In 2020, it increased slightly, 84% and 16% respectively. Party politics remains a male universe. Women are the majority in Brazilian society (51,8%) and the majority as voters 52,5%. It is important to point out that 17% of Brazilian municipalities, that is, around 900 cities, did not choose any women for executive or legislative positions. And 1185 cities elected only one woman. When the race/ethnicity element comes to the fore, things become even more glaring: Of the 57.608 elected councilors in the country, only 6,16% declared themselves to be black (3.569) and 22,363 were brown, the novelty being the indigenous people who totaled 182 self-declarations.

In Maranhão, we have the following composition: 43 female mayors were elected Of these, 23 declared themselves brown, none black. Of the 471 councilors, 257 declared themselves brown and 33 black. Let's use the concept of negro to designate pardos and pretos. What catches our attention are the partisan insertions. We only put the parties with the highest number. The others have one to three representatives:

number. The others have one to three representatives:

Source: TSE.

The Republican Party created the Republican Women's Movement to increase female participation in politics. It has in its paintings, a black woman, literate. “Yes, woman, here at the Republicans you have time and voice!”. In its succinct program, it begins with an epigraph by Margaret Thatcher ““I am not a policy of consensus, but of convictions”. In the ethnic field, he claims a “racial democracy” that we all know does not exist: “We have no divisions or ethnic disputes and we speak a single language”. See that this party captures a good part of the representations in the municipal legislature, in Maranhão. The relationship is repeated in several states.

The novelty of trans men and women in politics is commendable, necessary, but if we make an effort here to think about identity isolated from belonging to a class (which is part of that identity), we will find Thammy Miranda who is elected by the PL, who defends “economic liberalism”. Political training courses at the Instituto Fundação Álvaro Valle, a black woman, a doctor, talks about harassment in the workplace. The Congress in focus, made a survey that exposes the adherence of the parties to the Bolsonaro government. The PSC, DEM, are with 92% of "government". Among the transgenders, we will highlight Titia Chiba, elected councilor by the PSB in Pompeu-MG, in a clear reference to “defense of workers”. The collective mandates in São Paulo, Quilombo Periférico (PSOL), and Dialogue (Podemos) in Araçatuba. The death threats, the racism that is clear in the case of the young mayor elected in Bauru, Suéllen Rosim, whose expression associates her with poverty: she has the “face of a slum dweller”, she must be denounced, repudiated; and corroborates what we are trying to put in this short text. The question of identities must be considered and treated associated with the class and not outside it.

The identity issue in its moralist and liberal bias, far from expanding the actions of the left, contributes to its shrinking to “ghettos” and denies to the background pressing issues such as the return of hunger, the impoverishment of Brazilian society (which ironically affects in mostly black men and women); the closure and bankruptcy of more than 35% of Brazilian companies and the consequent unemployment that between open and out of dismay exceeds the number of 76 million Brazilians (in a universe of work of 105 million). The loss of purchasing power and the appearance of overexploited work with conditions that resemble slavery, in addition to the antediluvian uberized work, the scrapping and sale of Brazilian companies, privatization as the only national agenda, which unfolds in the municipalities in the daycare system, transport, sanitation pointing to the privatization of entire cities. All this alongside a proto-fascist and obscurantist discourse that attacks culture, science and education and leaves the popular social classes without access to answers in areas such as health and social security, all within a time of pandemic!

The absence of a national and local political agenda denotes three possible biases that need to be considered: a) the lack of an orchestrated response, centered on developmental and neo-developmentalist policies, capable of responding to ultraliberal agendas, as was evident even in the left sectors and progressive using the same theoretical background as liberals and neoliberals; b) the absence of organization, dialogue and representation of the popular strata and working classes, making the discourse only aimed at sectors of the middle classes and sectors of the well-off proletariat (such as civil servants); c) lack of modernized organizational models capable of covering the new mobilizations that have been taking place since 2013, with young app workers, call center workers, outsourced workers, the homeless, recycled material collectors, uniformed supporters, truck drivers, motoboys, railroad workers, miners, feminists, gays, blacks, indigenous peoples and other sectors. All of this pushes the left and progressive sectors into an aged discourse without the necessary universality to face the conjuncture in particular, the proto-fascist threat.

In this way, the representations of the left and progressives have been experiencing a loss of spaces that have been filled by the extreme right, the traditional right and other conservative sectors. The numbers of representatives in the executive and city councils in the cities point to this:

Left and Center – Left Representation in the 2012-2020 Municipal Elections:

Source: TSE.

The absence of a conjunctural analysis that addresses imperialist actions on the one hand and the development of productive forces on the other reduces the analysis to relativism and quick thoughts with low theoretical density and without concrete analysis (such as public policies) and, therefore, generating practices and sectarian moralistic discourses where potential allies are often the main target.

Several elections went through this situation, the most dramatic example was undoubtedly Rio de Janeiro, where the lack of understanding between the candidacies of the PT, PDT, REDE and PSOL (totaling more than 28% of the votes) placed in the second round , as a choice of the population, the current mayor of Bolsonarista of the extreme right (21,90%) and the candidacy of a liberal of the popular right (with 37,1%). The same negative situation appeared in other capitals such as Palmas and Campo Grande or in several important cities such as Campinas. Not to mention the countless capitals and important municipalities where the left and center left were divided in fratricidal fights, where the main adversary was the allies themselves, as was registered in Recife and Fortaleza and other places.

There is a small change in the current situation: speeches back from the Dictatorship; AI5, against education; science, etc., lost the strength they had between 2014 and 2019. This does not mean that the Bolsonaro government and its proto-fascist practices such as the protection of farmers who use slave labor; the fires in the Amazon and the Pantanal—and the impunity of those involved—, as their budget cuts in public areas, privatization and loss of social and labor rights are being defeated. Far from it, it means that a change of situation is being articulated where the anti-political discourse that elected Zema, Witzel and especially Bolsonaro has lost part of its appeal. As a démarche, thousands of shepherds and shepherdesses and their moralist and seventeenth-century discourse, and also the military and their vigilante discourse, were not successful in their rage.

From July 2019 onwards, a liberal opposition was most responsible for blocking several of the setbacks on the agenda in congress and in the Supreme Court, highlighting the appointment of the head of the PF, funding for FUNDEB, violence against women, Fake News investigation, cracking etc. With that, public opinion had a small shift to the center, but the electoral victory and the growth of Bolsonarism can be seen in the numbers of the 2020 elections.

Bolsonarism voters

Source: Data compiled by Ópera Mundi.

Bolsonaro's support base grew from 6.580.533 to 12.919.704: 96,33%.

Bolsonarism City Halls

Councilors of Bolsonarism

The center vote (physiological right) expanded, taking into account that since the Roberto Jeferson and Bolsonaro agreement, we have an alliance of this segment with the proto-fascist government:

 Centrão voters 

City Halls of Centrão

Councilors of Centrão

Despite the resounding liberal opposition action, commanded by daytime and active propaganda from the main TV channel and important newspapers such as Globo, Folha de São Paulo and O Estado de São Paulo, they had a small effect in electoral terms:

Neoliberal Right voters

Prefectures of the Neoliberal Right

councilors of the Neoliberal Right 

When considering a rapprochement between Bolsonarism and Centrão, it is possible to see, already in the first round, that the Bolsonaro government and the extreme right thought came out with greater capillarity and that the moralist, anti-culture, anti-science, obscurantist agenda will have penetration and formulation militant and in public policies in cities of different sizes and capitals, that is, they will be strengthened.

We may be facing a paradox: the defeat of candidates nominated by Bolsonaro, but the victory of his retrograde agenda.

Round Two: Hope and Disappointment

After several blunders that strongly marked the first round, it seems that the political environment between the left and center left improved, there was a more empathetic climate, militating for this the rapprochement between Ciro Gomes and Lula, the fraternal posture of the PT in several capitals, including with the outstanding figures of Jilmar Tatto and Raul Ponte who got involved body and soul in supporting Boulos and Manu: they showed militant commitment. It is also registered the effort of PSOL and PC do B to expand the dialogue with other party sectors and society. The fact is that there was a common militant action in several capitals and important cities, creating especially among young sectors an environment of renewal and hope, it was common to see left-wing candidates' stickers on motoboys or carters, which mobilized the hope of defeating Bolsonarism and building broader government projects, in addition to having nationalized names of a new generation of the left, such as Guilherme Boulos of the PSOL, Marília Arraes of the PT, João Campos of the PSB and Manuela D'Ávilla of the PCdoB.

Elections in the second round in capitals such as São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre, Fortaleza, Belém and Vitória had the importance of enhancing the construction of a true front and constituting a broad left, center left and democratic field with an agenda in defense of democracy, sovereignty, workers' and people's rights and against obscurantism.

However, if in the first round the elections had a regionalized agenda, centered on local issues, the second round was marked by the nationalization of the election with the entry of all the great figures of national politics, and with that anti-PTism, very anti-social, anti-communism, anti-worker and people came to the fore again, showing that despite the retreat of the conjuncture, there is still not a change to the point of the left and center left to overcome the conservative and extreme right forces by their own legs, as was well shown in the Exame- Idea of ​​December 4th where Bolsonaro comes first in the presidential succession.

The disappointment came with the results: of the five capitals that the left contested, it was only successful in Belém with PSOL. Likewise, through the PT, it disputed the second round in thirteen important cities, winning in four cities.

The Center left had an improvement in its performance, it disputed 5 elections in capitals: It won in 4 disputes. He was in the second round in eight important cities, he won in Petrópolis with the PSB and Serra with the PDT.

Liberals decreased in size, but won in 3 of the most important capitals in the country and in important cities. Success also made the Centrão that grew in several cities and capitals. Bolsonarist parties grew a lot, practically doubled in size, but they only won in São Luís, where the elected mayor cannot be characterized as a Bolsonarist, but as a person closer to the liberal right. But as we know, the liberal right flirts with fascism when it suits them.

Anyway, there was a change of political mood, but not a significant conjunctural change.

Brief analysis of the first round in Maranhão and São Luís  

The elections in Maranhão and in its capital had as an important backdrop the assessment of Governor Flávio Dino, of the PCdoB. Regardless of the criticisms that can be leveled at Dino, he has been noted for representing a broad alliance that encompasses sectors of the left (PC do B, PT), by parties of the center Left (PSB, PDT) and includes in this alliance conservative sectors of society maranhense (PSDB, DEM) and other acronyms that transit in the base of Bolsonarism itself (Republicans, PSL, Avante, Solidariedade etc). Its approval in the 2018 elections was 59,29%. Despite this very broad front, he managed to create a government that opposed President Bolsonaro's right-wing extremism and played a rational role in the midst of a storm of obscurantism, taking the side of the popular demonstrations against the cut of funds in universities and in the great battle from the fight against Covid 19, gained national and international notoriety with this measure. The result was the wrath of Bolsonaro and his flock. The “worst of the Paraíbas” thus qualified for the national succession dispute and it was with this internal offensive that Flávio Dino proposed the dispute.

In the 10 main cities of the State, the performance was not what was expected: 1) Imperatriz, the second city of the State, the winner was the DEM; 2) São José do Ribamar gave PL; 3) in Timon, Dinair Veloso, from PSB, won; 4) Caxias, Fabio Gentil dos Republicanos (easily won the election); 5) Codó, Dr José Francisco from PSD (won in a close dispute); 6) Paço do Lumiar, Paula from PCdoB was the winner; 7) Açailândia, gave Republicans with Aluisio; 8) Bacabal, Edvan Brandão do PDT; 9) Balsas, re-elected Dr Erik from the PDT. In São Luis, we had a fierce dispute in the second round between Podemos (more aligned with Bolsonarism) and Republicans (whose candidate is not part of the party, it should be noted that he is part of Bolsonaro’s base). That is, of the ten largest, only four will have an open path to allies and the remaining six are possible opponents in these final two years of government.

In small towns, the scenario is not very promising for the progressive camp: São Pedro dos Crentes, all elected councilors are from the same party, PSL (acronym for which Bolsonaro was elected); other cities like Centro do Guilherme, Gov. Newton Belo, Iguape do Meio, Lagoa do Mato and others, practically all the councilors were elected by the right and by Bolsonarist bases. In these cities, it is possible to imagine the issue of public policies such as: “school without a party”, contempt for the fight against COVID19; outsourcing and privatizations; moralist guidelines in general, as highlighted by some ministers, such as sexual abstinence, actions against homoaffectivity, the rights of women, blacks and indigenous peoples and the strengthening of the patriarchal family, all of this alongside a reduction in public spending and consequently an increase in unemployment and social marginalization, etc.

The victory of the right draws our attention, with the sensational growth of the Republican party: it had the highest number of votes for mayors in the general calculation, 491.970 votes, in Maranhão. It managed to elect the third largest number of mayors, going from 7 to 24 municipalities and its bench of councilors jumped from 111 to 204 councillors. The growth of parties aligned to the right — even with considerations on the ideological heterodoxy of Brazilian politicians in the interior of the country and in Maranhão — respond to Bolsonaro's political action and may also mean facilitation for the irregular appropriation of local lands, destruction of forests, increase in violent actions against indigenous villages and quilombos, riverside communities, etc. In addition to creating capillarity for the state and national dispute in 2022.

Votes for Bolsonarism candidates for mayor 2020 ***

Source: TSE


Bolsonarismo City Halls elected in 2016 and 2020** (survey subject to corrections)

Bolsonarism voters elected 2016 and 2020

In turn, the left, which for the most part makes up the main base of support for Flávio Dino (except the majority of PSOL, linked to Lavajatista ideas), had a fragile performance and suffered a significant loss in governments: reduced by more than half and also in the city council chambers.

Votes for left-wing candidates for mayor 2020

Left City Halls 1st round 2016 and 2020

The left decreased from 53 mayors to 23.

Left-wing councilors elected in 2016 and 2020**

 Source: TSE*

Election in Sao Luis 

São Luís is a separate chapter. The PCdoB candidate took fourth place in the dispute and the second round was between a liberal right candidate (Eduardo Braide) and a center right candidate, Duarte Junior. Flávio Dino positioned himself in favor of his former secretary (and candidate of the REPUBLICANS). The two scenarios that were placed in the main city of the state predicted, first, Duarte's victory; in this case, the public policy initiatives designed by the fragile government of Edivaldo Holanda (PDT) would remain and would represent the continuity of Flávio Dino's municipal policies in a different guise and with different intensity and with a bloc of alliances that could move towards rupture according to the national political scene.

In the victorious scenario of Eduardo Braide (PODEMOS) he brings to the fore right-wing policies and a privatizing agenda that will further burden the most precarious. Added to this was the mobilization that took place involving all groups and political parties in the state in support of Braide, including cracks in left-wing parties with minority sectors of the PT and PCdoB taking a stand in favor of the right-wing candidate.

We emphasize that this mobilization involved Monopoly Financial Capital and the commodities market, especially through agribusiness. The growth of agribusiness has reached in the last 5 years a speed of 5% per year with market expansion especially with China and other nations, increasing on the one hand the concentration of income and power and raising tension over quilombola, indigenous, riverside areas and other traditional populations and family farming. This tension finds Flávio Dino a hindrance, since his political idea is the pact of the parties seeking accommodation between the sectors. This political vision has already been defeated at the national level with the 2016 Coup d'Etat, but seems to resist in Maranhão with the action of Flávio Dino.

The message from the ballot boxes was clear, agribusiness does not want to negotiate, it wants to overcome the constraints it encounters for its free development, and it acted in these elections with a “tactical variation” of Mao Tse Tung in reverse: it surrounded the cities by the action of businesses in the field and now surrounds the State with all its power, seeking to take over the government in 2022. The chances of reversing this situation are small, and it requires a reading of the conjuncture as a whole, it requires understanding the size of the dammed bourgeois violence that will be overflowed on the underprivileged, requires thinking about new tactics and a broad policy of alliances that go beyond their own borders, requires thinking about a new political agenda and a new development model.

The defeat of Flávio Dino, putting him in a difficult situation in terms of state succession and losing strength in the national succession debate and enshrining a victory by way of Bolsonaro’s proto-fascist agenda in Maranhão.

Final considerations

In 1938, at the end of a deep crisis that had left Chile in an interval between dictatorship and democracy, with a strong growth of the fascist agenda, there was a presidential campaign with the traditional candidacies of the oligarchies. The left, in the Chilean Popular Unity Front, had Marshal Marmaduke Grove as their main representative and dear to the popular sectors, who at the beginning of the decade had promoted a military uprising and seized power for two weeks, founding the Chilean Socialist Republic. Grove was seen as the natural candidate of the Chilean Socialist Party (PSC) and the left, but his rejection by the middle sectors was very strong, thus leading the Communist Party of Chile (PCCh) and the Radical Party (PR) to present a candidacy of the moderate left of Pedro Aguirre Cerda, who won the elections by less than 2% and thus demobilized the fascist agenda and policies and enabled the construction of a social developmentalist agenda, the same currently did Peronism in Argentina with the choice by Alberto Fernández instead of the favorite of the left, Cristina Kirchner.

In this second round we had two symbolic elections that remind us of historical learning: the first in Vitória (ES) bringing together the leftist candidacies of the PT and twice mayor, José Coser, and the extreme right candidate, Delegate Pasolini. Coser defended an agenda aimed at the interests of functionalism, individual and social freedoms, human rights, public interests in the city and was defeated by the agenda of public security, defense of the family, moral values, privatization of their own, etc. All conservative political social forces gathered around Pasolini's candidacy and he won with 17% of voters' preference, winning in 47 of the 51 districts of Vitória. In the second example we had the candidacy of José Sarto PDT and Captain Wagner of PROS. The pedetista presented an agenda centered on a broad alliance that would mobilize a development process in Fortaleza focused on partnership with private sectors centered on tourism, a center-left agenda in Ceará. Wagner, on the other hand, presented a typical Bolsonarist agenda focused on security policy and privatizations. Sarto emerged victorious by less than 3%. That is, if there is not an open agenda between the left, center left and also with democratic and progressive sectors, seeking to create a minimum commitment agenda, a minimum program, the chances of removing the proto-fascist agenda in vogue will be small.

Finally, the sectors of the left in Maranhão (and in Brazil) who preached a null vote in the name of combating Flávio Dino's "left" authoritarianism, his personalism, etc., have despised reality and are helping to push the populations most vulnerable to a violent local agenda like the one we are experiencing in Brazil after 2016.

*Joana A. Coutinho is a professor at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at UFMA.

*John Kennedy Ferreira is a professor at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at UFMA.



ENGELS, F. “For the History of the Communist League”, available at 1885,

Live Wheel, from 09-11-2020



** Statistical data reviewed by Prof. Ulisses Nascimento-UFMA.

* Survey subject to corrections

See this link for all articles


  • About artificial ignoranceEugenio Bucci 15/06/2024 By EUGÊNIO BUCCI: Today, ignorance is not an uninhabited house, devoid of ideas, but a building full of disjointed nonsense, a goo of heavy density that occupies every space
  • Franz Kafka, libertarian spiritFranz Kafka, libertarian spirit 13/06/2024 By MICHAEL LÖWY: Notes on the occasion of the centenary of the death of the Czech writer
  • The society of dead historyclassroom similar to the one in usp history 16/06/2024 By ANTONIO SIMPLICIO DE ALMEIDA NETO: The subject of history was inserted into a generic area called Applied Human and Social Sciences and, finally, disappeared into the curricular drain
  • Strengthen PROIFESclassroom 54mf 15/06/2024 By GIL VICENTE REIS DE FIGUEIREDO: The attempt to cancel PROIFES and, at the same time, turn a blind eye to the errors of ANDES management is a disservice to the construction of a new representation scenario
  • Hélio Pellegrino, 100 years oldHelio Pellegrino 14/06/2024 By FERNANDA CANAVÊZ & FERNANDA PACHECO-FERREIRA: In the vast elaboration of the psychoanalyst and writer, there is still an aspect little explored: the class struggle in psychoanalysis
  • Volodymyr Zelensky's trapstar wars 15/06/2024 By HUGO DIONÍSIO: Whether Zelensky gets his glass full – the US entry into the war – or his glass half full – Europe’s entry into the war – either solution is devastating for our lives
  • Introduction to “Capital” by Karl Marxred triangular culture 02/06/2024 By ELEUTÉRIO FS PRADO: Commentary on the book by Michael Heinrich
  • Letter to the presidentSquid 59mk,g 18/06/2024 By FRANCISCO ALVES, JOÃO DOS REIS SILVA JÚNIOR & VALDEMAR SGUISSARDI: “We completely agree with Your Excellency. when he states and reaffirms that 'Education is an investment, not an expense'”
  • PEC-65: independence or patrimonialism in the Central Bank?Campos Neto Trojan Horse 17/06/2024 By PEDRO PAULO ZAHLUTH BASTOS: What Roberto Campos Neto proposes is the constitutional amendment of free lunch for the future elite of the Central Bank
  • The strike at federal Universities and Institutescorridor glazing 01/06/2024 By ROBERTO LEHER: The government disconnects from its effective social base by removing those who fought against Jair Bolsonaro from the political table