PT and PSol

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By Aldo Fornazieri*

Lula's freedom, achieved as a result of a general decision by the STF, is a reason for fair rejoicing and contentment by all those who value democracy. Unjustly convicted in a political process conducted by Sérgio Moro, the imprisoned Lula had become indigestible for the Judiciary and for Brazil itself, as world public opinion had consolidated the perception that he was a political prisoner.

Several analyzes of the political scope of Lula's freedom have already been produced, some with obvious exaggerations. Contrary to what some have suggested, Lula does not have the demiurgical power to transform an adverse situation for the people and workers into a favorable one overnight.

Lula, in fact, can do a lot, but he can't do everything. He himself will still have an ordeal of lawsuits and trials ahead of him and, in two years, he may have to face an unfavorable composition in the STF with two new ministers appointed by Bolsonaro. In addition to the fight for his innocence, his main political mission is to take the left out of the defensive position they have been in since 2015, and to work for an effective and programmatic opposition, centered on the real problems of society and Brazil. Indeed, until now, the opposition has been operating in the foam created by the Bolsonaro family.

In the speech he gave in São Bernardo, Lula demanded more courage, more combativeness from PT and leftist parliamentarians. The political game in Congress has been dominated by Centrão, articulated around Rodrigo Maia, aligned with the government's economic agenda. There will hardly be a change in the correlation of force. But this domain cannot continue to operate as smoothly as it has, virtually unopposed.

Lula announced that he will make caravans through Brazil, along the lines of those that have already been done in the past. It is important to reactivate the combative spirit of militancy and political and social activism. But it is insufficient. The left's problem lies in two points: fragile organization and distance from the peripheries, dominated by evangelicals and conservatism. Any future-oriented strategy needs to address these two weaknesses.

At this moment Lula seems to have more capacity to mobilize militancy and social activism rather than society as a whole. Today, neither Bolsonarism nor the left have the power to summon large crowds. In addition to society being aloof from parties and politicians, it lacks mobilizing mottoes and mobilizing capacities. If large mobilizations come, these will be more the work of society itself than of parties and politicians.

With the approach of the municipal elections, the political and partisan game tends to move more and more to the electoral field. Although municipal elections are part of their own dynamics and logic, different from national elections, it is clear that they also serve as a test for the construction of scenarios for 2022.

In this way, there are two general political tasks set for the progressive parties: (a) to promote a programmatic and effective opposition against the Bolsonaro government based on the concrete issues of society and the country, and (b) to build the architecture of municipal elections. Faced with these two tasks, it makes no sense to work for the formation of a democratic front with sectors from the center.

The defense of democracy and rights is certainly a fundamental point of opposition to the government. But the struggle around these questions must imply punctual agreements with sectors of the center, regardless of the formation of a front. Even because the center is not willing and it makes no sense to form this democratic front. This does not mean that one should not talk and negotiate with the political center.

It is precisely here that some dilemmas begin for the PT and which also involve the PSol. The coup against Dilma and Lula's arrest pushed the PT further to the left, which meant that there was a rapprochement with the PSol. The PCdoB, strictly speaking, has never faced dilemmas in its policy of alliances, since it is broad and heterodox. To win the 2002 elections, the PT and Lula made a clear move towards the centre. This movement, added to Lula's electoral potential, generated confidence and attractiveness among sectors of the center, resulting in victory.

Upon leaving prison, José Dirceu stated that now the fight “is to take back the government”. The question is: is the PT able today to build a perspective of resuming the government without making alliances with the center and without moving more towards a center-left position? In theory, this resumption would be very difficult to occur without these movements. And if the PT executes these movements, what is the position of the PSol?

Apparently, it would be unsustainable for the PSol to maintain an alliance with the PT shifted to a more center-left position. The PSol needs to realize that today there is room for the growth of a more leftist position, located in sectors dissatisfied with the PT's conduct and mistakes. Furthermore, if the PSol wants to consolidate the process of its party building, it cannot remain subservient to the PT's hegemony. It needs to present itself, expose itself, consolidate organization, social and electoral strength and project leaderships.

What would be the political implications if the PT decides to follow paths more to the left? In the first place, it would have to seek a strong polarization against the Bolsonaro government and all that it stands for. Two developments can occur from this position: (a) Bolsonaro would unify the right-wing camp and consolidate himself as an attractive alternative for 2022; (b) the political center would find it difficult to dialogue with the PT and Lula and would accelerate the process of building a unified alternative for the presidential race. In the progressive field, however, it would be easier to build a left front, encompassing the PT, the PSol and the PCdoB along with portions of other parties such as the PSB, etc.

The PT Congress will have to untie the knots of these dilemmas and dispel the doubts raised by its position. It will have to do this looking to the future and knowing that it will be difficult to count on Lula's candidacy. You will have to calculate the costs, risks and benefits of each of these options. The path of broad alliances to the center has already been tested and has resulted in what it has: Brazil has taken steps backwards in terms of democracy, rights, justice, equality and poverty.

The consolidation of a leftist front, on the other hand, is unlikely to result in the resumption of government in the medium term. If this is the bet, it would have to leave José Dirceu's slogan in the background to change strategy. It would be a question of opting for a long-term strategy of building hegemony in civil society. It would be about organizing social and popular movements, consolidating positions of organization and strength in the peripheries, recovering the weakened trade union movement, giving a new meaning to the student movement, building youth, women and black organizations, promoting battles for cultural changes and of values ​​and conquering institutional spaces from the base to the top – from neighborhoods, city halls, city councils upwards.

The question that needs to be answered is: what is the most efficient and safest way to change Brazil towards justice, equality, freedom, rights and prosperity in a sustainable way? The PT, the PSol and the other parties in the progressive camp need to respond quickly and clearly to this question.

*Aldo Fornazieri is a professor at the School of Sociology and Politics (FESPSP).

Originally published on the website Brazil 247

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