historical reparation

Image: Lucas Vinícius Pontes
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By FRANCISCO FERNANDES LADEIRA*

In the electoral field, we defeated fascism

In December 1989, Brazilians went to the polls, in the second round, to choose the President of the Republic, after two decades of military rule. On one side was Fernando Collor de Melo (PRN), representing the interests of economic elites. On the other hand, the popular candidacy of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT).

At the time, despite being only nine years old, I was already interested in politics. Like every individual who longs for a fair society, without the maintenance of certain privileges, I was in favor of Lula. I remember that election divided Brazilian society, in what they usually call “polarization”. Fernando Collor was leading the polls (he had already won the first round), but as election day approached, Lula was closing in on his rival. The turnaround was not only possible, but it also showed, mathematically, a tendency. However, on the eve of the election, two factors came as “buckets of cold water” for us on the left.

In Fernando Collor's free electoral program, an ex-girlfriend of Lula accused the PT member of asking her to abort a pregnancy. no longer National Journal a (manipulated) compact was shown about the last debate between presidential candidates, in which the worst moments of the PT candidate and the best lines of the PRN candidate were highlighted.

We will never know whether these two events were decisive for Fernando Collor's victory, or even to what extent they influenced the loss of votes on the PT ticket. The fact is that that polarized election left a feeling of disappointment that we believed would never be repaired. The other four elections that Lula contested were quite predictable, Brazilians went to the polls practically already knowing the result (both in the two defeats to Fernando Henrique Cardoso and in the two victories over Serra and Alckmin). Many on the left, even today, think about how Brazil would have advanced in terms of social justice if Lula had taken office in 1990.

After Lula's two terms, came six years of Dilma Rousseff, a coup d'état, the Temer government and Lula's imprisonment (with his consequent loss of political rights). The PT even tried to launch the former president as a candidate for Planalto, in 2018, but ended up replacing him with Fernando Haddad, who lost the election to Jair Bolsonaro.

With all the twists and turns of the political scenario, behold, in 2022, the almost improbable happened. Lula would have the opportunity to run in a second round as polarized as that of the distant 1989. However, this year, his opponent, Jair Bolsonaro, had more “weapons” and played much dirtier than Fernando Collor.

If, in the first election after the military regime, Lula faced the elites and the mainstream media; in 2022, the petista, in addition to his historical opponents, also had to defeat religious fanaticism, the militias, a partisan Federal Highway Police, the fake news, the public machine and, mainly, fascism.

However, in the second round between Lula and Jair Bolsonaro, voters could compare the presidential terms of both candidates (which was not possible in 1989). While the Lula government was marked by social inclusion, building universities, valuing the arts, Brazil's leading role in the international scenario and encouraging science; The Bolsonarist mandate was characterized by the high cost of living, millions of hungry people, attacks on labor rights, ideological delusions, deforestation of the Amazon, neglect of Education, hatred of science and disastrous public management in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic. It has never been so easy to choose a president.

These and other factors indicated that four more years of Jair Bolsonaro would be a plunge into a type of obscurantism that would take us back to the worst moments in Brazilian history (or even humanity). Not by chance, many claimed that 2022 was the “most important presidential election of our lives”. Lula himself declared: “It was the hardest campaign of my life. It was not a campaign of one man against another, it was a campaign of those who love democracy against those who favor authoritarianism”.

So there was no other option: it was win or win. Fortunately, contrary to 1989, the result of the polls was favorable. As soon as Lula was announced as president-elect, that fierce dispute with Collor came to mind (even the classic jingle “Lula lá”” was re-recorded this year, given the similarity between the campaigns). At least in the electoral field, we defeated fascism. That emblematic defeat in 1989 finally had its due historical reparation.

*Francisco Fernandes Ladeira is a doctoral candidate in geography at Unicamp. Author, among other books, of The ideology of international news (CRV).

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