Most votes for Bolsonaro were votes against the PT.
Jair Bolsonaro’s election surprised almost all. He went from having 20% of the voters’ support a few months before elections, to winning the first round with 46% of the valid votes, and then he was finally elected president. Many elements express the support to the Bolsonaro alternative by millions of voters.
By: Bernardo Cerdeira
A core formed by his initial supporters, representing 20%, support his extremely reactionary standings: the defense of military dictatorship, torture, execution of what they call bandits, and persecution of communists and the left wing in general, women, black, LGBTs, teachers, and a long etc. However, this does not explain the great percentage of votes obtained by Bolsonaro in the industrial working class of the South and the South East, who traditionally voted for the PT. The PT even lost one of its main fortresses by far like the Sao Paulo ABC.
The most important reasons for the rise of the Bolsonaro phenomenon has been growing in the past five or six years. It begins by the deep economic crisis in the country, resulting from the capitalist world crisis, which has been coming from 2008 with ups and downs, but without a long-lasting solution. This crisis generated one of the greatest unemployed masses in history, lowering of wages, precarious jobs, and a brutal growth of social violence.
Critical situations like this one aggravate the struggle among classes. The Brazilian bourgeoisie and imperialism throw the weight of the crisis on the backs of the working class, cutting social budgets since the Dilma administration, limiting the unemployment benefit and the PIS (Program of Social Integration), until Temer, who pushed the labor reform, unlimited outsourcing, and health and education budget cuts.
Workers reacted with mobilizations. For example, the April 28 General Strike in 2017 against the Pensions reform, the labor reform and outsourcing. In these confrontations, workers managed to postpone the attack on pensions, but they suffered attacks on their labor rights.
The economic and social crisis generated another phenomenon around the world: a deep political crisis of the bourgeois parliamentary democracy. To increase exploitation of workers and control the struggles against these measures, imperialism and the bourgeoisie have invoked authoritarian or far right populist governments. For example, Donald Trump (The United States), Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Turkey), Rodrigo Duterte (Philippines), Vladimir Putin (Russia), and others.
This political crisis had particularly intense repercussions in Brazil. There is a division between bourgeois sectors, and multiple corruption accusations, which have worn down the State’s institutions, mainly the Executive, the Congress and the political parties. Divisions and confrontations among bourgeois sectors, combined with the loss of the PT’s social bases led to Dilma Rouseff’s impeachment in 2016, and the two years of Michel Temer’s disastrous administrations, which far from containing the crisis, deepened it.
Society is going through an impasse of five years, which became unbearable for the middle strata and the working class. Both asked for a strong government that would take measures against unemployment and the lack of security. One that had no links with the political system and the old parties, to sweep all the corrupt politicians. This was the scenario where Jair Bolsonaro rose.
Bolsonaro appeared as a candidate opposite to all there is, without comprise with the politicians. A complete fraud since this politician has been a Federal Representative for the past 27 years, he has gone through nine parties, and he is also compromised with corruption. Proof of this, his campaign was questioned for the use of “caixa 2” (a form of illegal financing of electoral campaigns; T.N.) to disseminate lies and rumors. In the first days after being elected, he confirmed the names of distinguished corrupts to compose his government. However, popular desperation and a campaign organized and highly financed through digital means, as well as the support of evangelical churches, facilitated his victory.
Mistakes: the PT’s Responsibility
However, most of the surprising voting in Bolsonaro was due to a vote against the PT, not just on behalf of the conservative middle class, but mainly workers who previously voted for this party. Who is responsible for this feeling? We believe it is the PT itself.
The break of sectors of the working class with this party began in the 2013 demonstrations. These already evidenced a revolt not only against the increase in transportation rates, but also against brutal police repression, expenses in public works for sport events, and the unfulfilled promises regarding public services like health and education, which continued precarious. For this, the slogan of the demonstrations was “It is not just about 20 cents, it’s about rights”.
This break deepened with the electoral larceny of Dilma Rousseff’s second administration, who during the campaign promised not to mess with the workers’ rights at all costs. However, after elections, she named Joaquim Levy, representative of the financial sector, to apply a harsh adjustment against the workers. Contrary to what was promised, Dilma’s first action in her second mandate was to publish the provisory measures 664 and 665, which limited the unemployment benefit and the PIS bonus. At the same time, there was a 40% electricity rate increase, an increase in the price of fuel and oil derivatives, cuts in health, in education and in the works of the Program of Growth Acceleration (PAC).
Another fundamental element was the corruption issue. In their 13 years in office, the PT made alliances with corrupt and right wing parties like the PMDB, PDT and PP, helping them to remain in office. The PT’s allies were and still are well known corrupts like Rena Calheiros, Eunício de Oliveira, Sérgio Cabral, and José Sarney. From these alliances, the PT was deeply involved in the corruption schemes existing in the Brazilian State for decades, and it was completely discredited when these schemes came to public with the Lava Jato operation.
This participation is related to the PT’s strategy regarding the Brazilian State and its political regime. They want to rule the bourgeois state just as it is. They stand for the State, the Constitution and its institutions, like the National Congress, the Judiciary Power, and even those more repressive: the Armed Forces and the police.
The PT administrations did nothing to judge the military accused of crimes during the military regime and they reserved the National Truth Commission a merely decorative role. They created the National Force of Public Security and used it to repress the rebellions of the hydroelectric plants workers in Jurai, Santo Antonio and Belo Monte in 2011. Dilma sanctioned the Anti-terror Bill that opened path for criminalization of social movements.
The problem is that the State and its institutions stand for the bourgeoisie’s interests. These adopt measures that withdraw the workers’ rights, and repress the workers when they go to fight in the streets. Therefore, by standing for the State and the Brazilian political regime, the PT leadership causes enormous harm to the working class, because it disseminates the idea that the bourgeois institutions, in other words, the enemy class, works for the good of all.
The PT made consciousness and independent organization of the working class setback not just regarding the bourgeois State and the Armed Forces. In the first place, the PT prioritized the support of national and international bourgeoisie: the great banks and contractors, the automobile assembly plants, agribusiness, etc. Allowing them to have enormous profits, thus strengthening the main enemy of the working class.
At the same time, the PT leadership reinforced capitalist ideology of individual progress through education, hard work, entrepreneurial spirit and merit. As if it were possible in a society where less than 1% accumulates enormous wealth based on labor exploitation of the remaining 99%, which does not gather any condition or opportunity to progress through merit.
They convinced the workers that the solution to their problems depends on the vote, not on the permanent struggle against exploitation. It is not necessary to fight, just to vote for the PT. This way, they weakened the consciousness of the workers on the need to organize and to mobilize to stand for their rights and interests before those who exploit them.
Finally, they pushed an enormous setback in the organization of our class, tying the CUT (United Workers’ Federation; T.N.), the MST (Workers without Land; T.N.) and the UNE (National Student Union; T.N.) to the government, co-opting unionists to become ministers or for thousands of positions of confidence and handing over to labor federations part of the union tax. The role of most unions – with the exception of the CSP Conlutas – went on to be tamed organizations that defend the government’s policies, instead of the working class’s interests.
In short, the PT’s propaganda and political action lead to the same conclusion: capitalism would be a national and international system impossible to be topped. Therefore, workers have to submit to its norms and laws.
The PT’s responsibility is explicit: corruption, betrayal, attacks on the class, identification with the political system and confusion in the consciousness of the class on who are its enemies. One must not alarm oneself that workers voted with the feeling “against everything that there is”, including the PT as part of this. In other words, taking it as any other bourgeois party. The fact they voted on Bolsonaro with illusions or because they saw no alternative is also a result of most left wing unconditionally aligning with the PT.
However, the vote of these workers on Bolsonaro is not a vote in favor of dictatorship or the far right wing. It would be criminal calling them reactionary or, even worse, fascists. The change in the standing of these millions of workers will depend on the future specific experience with the Bolsonaro administration, the class struggle result, and largely, the conditions to build an alternative to the PT.
Published in www.pst.org.br, 11/14/2018