One eye on the fish, one on the cat!

Image: Magali Guimarães


The super-wide front is important to win the election and, in case of victory, to govern

Lula's Noah's Ark is a beauty, reader. It has been deservedly praised. It is a brilliant and very Brazilian construction. The Brazilian is, among many other things, an eclectic and a pragmatist. And our Noé, former President Lula, is a Brazilian to the core. And this is, incidentally, one of the reasons for his pre-eminence in Brazilian politics since the 1970s. Whatever the outcome of this election, Lula has already become, for the much he has done, for the much he has suffered, for the way he has resisted persecution implacable, a legendary figure, a true Brazilian legend.

But it wasn't Lula himself that I wanted to talk a little about today, but his construction – the super-wide front, which he himself nicknamed Noah's Ark. This ark, with very heterogeneous crew and passengers, could only be assembled, I insist, in a country of pragmatists and eclectics like Brazil. And for a pragmatic and eclectic politician like Lula. For obvious reasons, which I don't need to recapitulate now, the super-wide front is important to win the election and, in case of victory, to govern.

Nothing is perfect, unfortunately. Lula's Ark is getting a little crowded and, let's be frank, with passengers, sometimes, very dubious. Alright, we want to get rid of this disaster called Jair Bolsonaro. And, since 2021, it was clear and crystal clear that Lula was the one most likely to defeat him. With a few weeks to go until the second round, we all know that victory is not guaranteed.

Lula himself had been warning for months that it would be a very difficult election. At a luncheon I attended a few months ago, one of the most prominent members of the Arca commented realistically that running for re-election as president, governor or mayor is “cowardice”. A statement that needs no explanation, but which despite this was being forgotten by those who took Jair Bolsonaro's defeat for granted. Others, on the contrary – such as Professor Marcos Nobre, from Unicamp – have been warning since 2021 that, despite everything, Jair Bolsonaro would arrive competitive in the presidential elections.

Therefore, Lula's Ark is anything but exclusionary. Like a mother's heart, everyone fits. Anyone can join, as long as they are committed to antibolsonarism. The broad front is therefore fundamentally defined by the negative.

A problem arises from this: inside the Arca we have the expressive presence of the powerful traditional right or centre-right, orphan of the third way. Without wanting to err on the side of didacticism, I remember that Brazilian politics is roughly divided into four large blocs: (1) the center-left and most of the left, led by Lula and the PT; (2) the traditional right or centre-right, which includes Faria Lima and the corporate media and was represented mainly by the PSDB, now in shambles; (3) the physiological right or centre-right, which includes Centrão and other ideologically undefined parties, generally regionally based; and (4) the Bolsonarist, fascist or proto-fascist extreme right, represented in Congress by the BBB bench (bible, ox, bullet). There are other forces, but they are peripheral. Block 4, previously completely inexpressive in Brazil, came out of the closet with force and fuss in 2018.

Lula's Ark includes most of block 2. Block 3 is now mostly part of block 4, but can disembark at any time and apply for entry into the Ark, depending, of course, on the result of the second round.

With relentless pressure from Block 2 members, the Arca is listing dangerously to the right. Again, in the dramatic conjuncture we are experiencing, only a crazy radical would think of rejecting or harassing colleagues from block 2. They are legitimate passengers of the Ark. After all, is she or is she not a mother's heart? And I say more: if there is still a financier, a neoliberal, a physiologist, even a former Bolsonarist, willing to embark late, let him be received with kisses and hugs.

However, reader, no illusions! And with a healthy dose of hypocrisy, the same hypocrisy that La Rochefoucauld said was vice's homage to virtue. Neocompanions, however friendly, however dedicated to the discourse of social justice and democracy, are not always authentic. Generally speaking, let's say diplomatically, authenticity is not your forte. They are also disciples of La Rochefoucauld.

Obviously, the weight of block 2 increased with the result of the first round. Bloc 1 needs your support more than ever, and part of bloc 3, to defeat bloc 4. Politics is also the art of swallowing frogs. On the other hand, reader, let's face it: what's the use of winning the elections and losing the government? Yes, we have to be flexible, subtle and even delicate. But be careful: we won't lose our soul.

I remembered Rimbaud's verse: "par délicatesse, j'ai perdu ma vie” (out of delicacy, I lost my life). I don't say we can lose our lives, but our souls! In the immediate future, the fight is against the destruction of Brazil, which will be inevitable if Bolsonaro is re-elected. But soon after, the dispute will be for hegemony in the super-broad front that will compose the government, in case of Lula's victory. Realism above all else!

Not popular: one eye on the fish, the other on the cat!

*Paulo Nogueira Batista Jr. he holds the Celso Furtado Chair at the College of High Studies at UFRJ. He was vice-president of the New Development Bank, established by the BRICS in Shanghai. Author, among other books, of Brazil doesn't fit in anyone's backyard (LeYa).

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