Elections in Brazil: a Necessary Assessment

Now that the elections results are out, we think it is necessary to make a more in depth assessment of what causes brought about the current situation. In these lines, we’ll try to explain why Bolsonaro won in this first round and how to confront him.

Why did Bolsonaro win?

Almost 50 million people voted for the ex-military captain today, and millions in the country and around the world are wondering how someone like Jair Bolsonaro became the first choice of the Brazilian people, reaching 46.07% of the vote in the first electoral round. With a misogynist, homophobic, xenophobic and racist speech, he proposes a policy that violates the rights of the entire population and that vindicates the darkest moments of the country, such as the dictatorship. During his 28 years in the National Congress, he became know for saying things like, “the bad thing about the dictatorship was having tortured and not killed”.

Bolsonaro´s is not just another right wing project, it is fascist and relies on the army and the most reactionary sectors go against all the rights won by workers, women and the youth, and prevent new ones from being conquered, which can open the door to a more complex and critical outcome.

Starting from this characterization about who Bolsonaro is, we also have to take other factors into consideration that can help us explain these results.

There is a combination of national and international factors. The capitalist crisis has forced national regimes to work with politicians that can develop the policies needed to guarantee an increase in the rate of profit, attacking the working class. In this context, social polarization between candidates of antagonistic positions intensifies. In Brazil, this is combined with the lack of a strong left alternative, leaving the well-known PT as the plausible option. After a decade in government and being involved in corruption cases, the PT is strongly rejected by a great majority, who mostly voted Bolsonaro against the possible return of the PT.

The reactionary role of the churches has a special place, in Argentina with the struggle for the legalization of abortion, and here with their strong support for Bolsonaro’s campaign.

The possibility of Bolsonaro winning the ballotage will intensify the class struggle because the Brazilian people, like they demonstrated last Saturday 29 with the women’s movement at the head, won’t let their rights be taken away.

The responsibility of the PT.

The PT certainly has responsibility for the existence of Bolsonaro as a political reference.

This party was in power for three and a half terms: It won with a leftist discourse but it quickly adapted its policy to the bourgeois regime and not only didn’t take anti-imperialist measures, but rather guaranteed the profitability of capitalist corporations while in office. It lost a large part of his own social base, mainly among workers and the middle class that supported it, disappointing them by applying austerity plans for retirees and cuts in social budgets during its years in government. Meanwhile, it won over a new depoliticized base through clientelism, which easily changed its vote, confused by Bolsonaro’s nationalist proposals and the lies that it was bombarded with by those who supported this fascist.

This adds to the public corruption scandals that led to Dilma’s impeachment and Lula´s imprisonment.

This is important because we would not deposit any expectation on a new government of the PT, who didn’t reach 30% of the vote (29,22%).

We think that if the PT can reverse there results, which will be difficult, and the PT returned to power, it would be a weak government we will still have to confront it on the streets, since it will perpetuate the neo-liberal program it always followed.


This organization, of which Alternativa Socialista is a member, had a very low performance in the presidential election (0.6%) which contrasts with the good results in several states, for both Governor and legislative seats.

This is explained by two phenomena. One is the sharp polarization in which the PSOL was not the alternative. The second has to do with the politics of the leadership, who ran a presidential candidate who declares his support for the PT governments, who adopted a conciliatory speech throughout the campaign and lost a feature of the PSOL that has been characteristic of it since birth, which was being the left opposition of the PT. Thus, the chance to become an alternative in this situation of crisis was lost.

We are convinced that the PSOL should have radicalized its political project, moving away from the positions that resemble the PT, which could have positioned the party better at the national level, becoming an obstacle for Bolsonaro’s triumph.

This second phenomenon is what explains the good results the PSOL achieved in various states, both for government and for parliamentary seats, since in both cases it had a different campaign: independent, left, in opposition to Bolsonaro but also critical of the PT.

In the state of Pernambuco, for example, where governor candidate Dani Portela achieved an historical result, going from 27,000 thousand votes in the last election to almost 190,000, or the collective candidacy of 5 women who obtained a seat, with a proposal for a joint mandate for the next 4 years.

In the national Congress, the PSOL went from having 6 representatives (5 men and 1 woman) to 10 representatives (5 women and 5 men). It is the first time that the PSOL will have young people in its national caucus (Fernanda, Taliria and Aurea), black representatives and a broad representation of women.

These results raise the need for a debate within the organization, because we need to strengthen its left profile in order to confront the policies of those who want to advance against our rights in a repressive context, whatever their political color is, and thus become the alternative that the people seek and need to transform society. We must also debate outwards, because this election shows that when people find a left alternative, they support it, despite the advance of reactionary sectors, as has been demonstrated.

After Bolsonaro’s first round triumph

Already with the results of the election, it is important to know that fascism must be confronted in the streets. From today on, we have to demand political and trade union leaders to lead the mobilization because we can’t let this project grow. A great campaign against the possibility of Bolsonaro becoming the new president must be promoted. For that reason we must take a stand, understanding that the two current candidates are not the same, the vote against Bolsonaro must be a deeply critical vote, without depositing any type of trust in a project that has already demonstrated that it has nothing to offer, that instead of trusting on the mobilization with the advance of the right, -like with the coup against Dilma or the imprisonment of Lula- trusted in the regime, or that when we called to mobilize against the austerity plan of Temer, with the CUT leading, ended up demobilizing and calling to lift the general strike 3 days before it was to start in December 2017. Because of this we believe that we’ll have to keep on confronting it if it were in office again, which seems very difficult due to the huge distance behind the monster that is emerging.

Today the revolutionary way is a vote against fascism, without sugar-coating the populist center-left position, and we have to continue building a left-wing political alternative that is a real option for women, youth, and the working class as a whole. From Alternativa Socialista in PSOL we propose this path, and we propose you to be part of this campaign.

Cele Fierro and Lucas Tiné