Elections and class struggle in Brazil

In Brazil the class struggle grows sharper day by day. The national election for president and for the entire National Congress, with its first round scheduled for Oct. 7, reflects this class struggle.

For the moment, most attention is focused on the election, which may find the Workers Party (PT) candidate facing off against an ultra-right candidate in the second round on Oct. 28.

Behind it, all Brazil’s super-rich ruling class has over the past few years opened an austerity offensive against all of Brazil’s working people. They have especially attacked African-descendent people — who are half the population — and the remaining Indigenous peoples. They have also attacked women’s rights on the job and elsewhere and increased persecution of LGBTQ people.

On the political scene, this ruling-class offensive led to a parliamentary coup against the elected PT President Dilma Rousseff in August 2016 — impeaching her — and to jailing former PT President Luis Ignacio “Lula” da Silva five months ago. Lula had planned to run for president and was leading in the polls by about double that of any other candidate; thus he was jailed to stop him from winning.

Despite his being in jail and the many slanders against him and the Workers Party, Lula is by far the most popular of any single political figure in Brazil.

The PT candidate who replaced Lula is Fernando Haddad, a former mayor of Sao Paulo, Brazil’s biggest city. Haddad’s weakness as a candidate is that he has little name recognition countrywide. Many people are even unaware that he is the candidate whom Lula favors. There are only three weeks left to inform 150 million voters.

Running for vice president with Haddad is the candidate of the Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB), Manuela D’Ávila, a former youth leader.  The PT, the PCdoB and the small Party of Social Order make up “The People Happy Again” coalition on the ballot.

Main opponent is ultra-rightist

Leading the polls with about 24-26 percent is ultra-rightist Jair Bolsonaro, a former captain in the Brazilian army. Openly and viciously misogynist, anti-Black, anti-Indigenous and anti-LGBTQ, he calls for even more police murders of Brazil’s poor and Black population.

Bolsonaro was stabbed while campaigning on Sept. 6 and apparently barely escaped with his life. He is still denouncing the PT from his hospital bed and accusing them of planning “electoral fraud,” with no evidence, of course.

Bolsonaro was not considered a viable candidate before the assassination attempt. Many voters say they will reject him in the second round. But because the usual center-right and right-wing candidates, like Geraldo Alckmin and Marina Silva, are compromised by corruption charges, there is more of a possibility that an ultra-right extremist like Bolsonaro could win the vote.

There is another center-left candidate, Ciro Gomes. Many expect that either Gomes or Haddad will face Bolsonaro in the run-off.

This is assuming that the political struggle is confined to the electoral arena. Social organizations like the Landless Movement have taken the position of supporting Haddad and protesting Lula’s incarceration. Even those who might have been disillusioned by the PT’s willingness to make concessions to the ruling class during its time in office now see the election of the PT as a way of at least slowing down the offensive.

Behind it all is the growing inequality in the Brazilian population. As an example, the six richest people in Brazil own as much wealth as the poor half of the Brazilian population of 207 million.

U.S. imperialism has been lined up with those in Brazil who wanted to remove the PT from office and keep them out. Washington prefers a government, like the present one, hostile to Venezuela, Cuba and Bolivia, in a country so large and powerful as Brazil.

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