Brazil holds its first round of municipal elections on Sunday. The electoral process was marked by the highest rate of abstention in the last 20 years, exceeding 23 percent. It has also witnessed an accelerated shift by the Brazilian bourgeoisie to the right, with fascist attacks on democratic systems and increased state surveillance of social media.
One of the factors contributing to low voter turnout in a country where voting is mandatory is the uncontrolled COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil. Following a drop in contamination levels in September and October, Brazil recorded a rapid rise in coronavirus cases, with the average number of new cases and deaths nearly doubling in the past 10 days, according to Worldometerdata. Brazil already has a total of more than 5.9 million cases and 166,000 deaths.
But golput also reveals the discrediting of Brazil’s entire political system in the eyes of the broad working class, which is increasingly dissatisfied with conditions of mass poverty and social inequality.
There were a large number of protest votes, which added to the abstentions, exceeding the votes for first-place candidates for mayor in Brazil’s 483 cities, including 18 capitals. In the country’s largest city, São Paulo, the votes for protests and abstentions reached 3.6 million, while the votes for the top two candidates totaled only 2.8 million.
The election was a failure for the Workers’ Party (PT), which ruled the country for 14 years, as well as for a candidate backed by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. PT, which in 2012 was selected in the first round in 630 cities, won only 179 municipal elections this year. Bolsonaro, whose fascist party Alliance for Brazil, which he founded in 2019, has not yet been officially recognized, is backing 59 candidates, with only 10 elected.
There has also been a significant decrease in the number of candidates elected by the traditional bourgeois parties, the Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB) and the Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB). The parties with the biggest gains were the Progressive Party (PP) and the Democrat Party (DEM), the latter winning six capitals in the first round.
This result was enthusiastically celebrated by the Brazilian media, which characterized it as a victory for “traditional” politics and for “democracy.” In an editorial, Folha de S. Paulo celebrated the “moderate conservative choice” and declared: “Two years ago, national and state elections were characterized by right-wing waves, often with populist and authoritarian tones, and rejection of traditional politicians and parties. This scenario has changed. “
The conservative State of S. Paulo, following the same line, states: “The catastrophe of Bolsonaroism and Lula-PTism at the ballot, two years after they starred in the polarization that plunged the country into an unprecedented moral crisis, is great news for Brazilian democracy. … traditional politics are being appreciated again. “
The political perspective highlighted in this comical celebration of the Brazilian municipal election is very similar to the praise by the same media from Joe. BidenVictory in US elections. leaf and Live hailed Biden as a “traditional” and “moderate” politician and considered his election a milestone in the collapse of a worldwide wave of “right-wing populists.”
But, while a portion of the Brazilian bourgeoisie seeks to mirror itself in the reactionary model of the US Democratic Party, Bolsonaro’s political allies are literally copying Donald Trump’s false accusations of election fraud.
Delays in the release of poll results, which in Brazil are stored in electronic ballot boxes (not connected to the Internet), and vague reports of hacking attacks on the Supreme Electoral Court (STE) are used by fascist figures linked to the President to assert that all an illegitimate process, setting a dangerous precedent for the upcoming elections.
Federal Congressman Carla Zambelli, co-founder of Bolsonaro’s Alliance for Brazil, said on Twitter: “Now more than ever we have to talk about #PrintedVote again as a way to check electronic voting. Nothing will convince me that such a system crashes without involving fraud. “The President’s son, Congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro, tweeted:” This brings a climate of insecurity, which makes people suspect that the delay in disclosure could be a new hacker attack or manipulation, because there is no transparency. [in the process]. “
As in the United States, the claim that the election of “traditional” right-wing politicians is an effective way to contain fascistic forces in Brazilian society is utterly false. The threat of a dictator arises not from the sick minds of Trump or Bolsonaro, but from the response of ruling elites to the profound crisis of capitalism and the explosion of class struggle it results.
That DEM and PP – both heirs of ARENA, the 1964–85 Brazilian military dictatorship – have consolidated themselves as the main “center” party of bourgeois politics in Brazil is a clear sign that the capitalist political system as a whole has moved sharply to the right.
This right-wing shift away from Brazil’s ruling class is manifested in the unprecedented number of military candidates running in this year’s elections. Not just the traditional right wing. That PT and pseudo-left satellite, Partai Sosialisme dan Merdeka (PSOL), nominate no less than 152 candidates from the Military Police or the armed forces. Of the 8,422 military candidates running in Brazil, about 10 percent were elected: 50 mayors and 809 council members.
The 2020 elections also saw an ominous escalation in social media policies in the name of fighting “fake news”. Hundreds of police intelligence officers are deployed in each state to carry out this task. Supreme Electoral Court Minister Luis Roberto Barroso stated: “We are preparing for the fight against fake news,” praising the unprecedented level of collaboration between the Brazilian state and “all technology companies”.
Demands for the Brazilian state to censor “fake news” have been championed by the pseudo-left PSOL, which even demanded during the 2018 elections that the Supreme Court block WhatsApp nationally for this purpose.
The more prominent role played by PSOL in this election, entering the second round in the two state capitals, was welcomed by the Brazilian bourgeoisie. Live, in an article entitled “DEM and PSOL cease to be supporting parties”, it was stated that the latter represented a “new left – more identical and cultural, on the fringes of young Brazil; people who see PT as ‘old’. “This means that it clearly recognizes PSOL as a petty bourgeois party, completely hostile to the working class movement.
The main race run by PSOL is for the city of São Paulo, where candidate for mayor, anti-Marxist professor and leader of the Homeless Workers Movement (MTST) Guilherme Boulos, competes with the current Mayor Bruno Covas of the PSDB.
Covas attacked Boulos with the same zeal as editorial at leaf and Season, and has argued that “experience defeats radicalism in the first half and experience defeats radicalism in the second.” But the fake-left candidate does everything to prove that this is not true.
In the first debate of the second round of elections in São Paulo, broadcast on Monday by CNN, Boulos thoroughly exposed his bourgeois program. As well as minimizing the likelihood of a second wave of COVID-19 in São Paulo, ignoring the accelerating growth in the number of cases and hospital admissions in the city, he reiterated his party’s reactionary approach to the military.
Boulos argued in the debate that the “public safety problem” in São Paulo could not be solved by “street lighting”, as Covas was trying to do, but needed more police! Boulos complained that the city’s local police, the Metropolitan Civil Guard (GCM), have far fewer officers than Rio de Janeiro, and stated: “The role of the GCM is to be in the environment and to identify, through community policing, where the focal point of crime, conflict … following examples of the most successful security models around the world. “
As protests against police brutality explode around the world, one wonders what model of state violence against the working class and youth most appeals to these false leftist con artists.
The Morenoite from the MRT, who slandered World Socialist Website which it claims to be “the only leftist organization on Brazilian soil fighting against principled struggle against police and political militarization,” criminally obscures PSOL’s reactionary views and promotes its election in São Paulo. With their political opportunist characteristics, they supported Boulos through a series of articles calling for “the struggle to confront, reject and defeat Covas”.
In order to resist the change of the ruling class to dictatorship in Brazil and internationally, the working class needs to form an independent political movement against capitalism, resolutely rejecting the political influence of any bourgeois and petty bourgeois tendencies.