Following its victory in the Brazilian presidential election on October 30, the Workers Party (PT) has been confronted by the active efforts of the fascistic President Jair Bolsonaro to fatally undermine the new government of Luís Inácio Lula da Silva.
Continuing the campaign waged throughout his four years in office to discredit the Brazilian democratic process, Bolsonaro has refused to concede defeat to Lula and has publicly expressed support for what he calls a “popular movement” against the “injustice of how the electoral process was carried out.”
Bolsonaro’s silence for almost 48 hours after the announcement of his defeat served as a backdrop for his fascist supporters to organize protests rejecting the election result. Sponsored by sections of the bourgeoisie and backed by police forces, they erected hundreds of roadblocks across the country and headed to Armed Forces bases demanding military intervention to prevent the PT president-elect’s inauguration.
After his speech on Tuesday afternoon, when he broke his silence, Bolsonaro maintained an ambivalent attitude toward the election results. While he has been careful to avoid directly blocking the transition of power to the new administration, he is keeping the avenues open to aggressively resume contesting the electoral process in the near future.
In his newest statement on Wednesday night, the fascistic president called on his supporters to clear the roads. Instead, he oriented them, “protest in other ways, in other places, this is very welcome.” He concluded his speech: “We’ll do what has to be done. I am with you, and I am sure you are with me.”
At the same moment, his sons, Flávio and Eduardo Bolsonaro, shared on their social media the video of a pro-coup demonstration in front of the Eastern Military Command in Rio de Janeiro. In the video’s caption, Flávio wrote: “Standing ovations to all Brazilians who are in the streets protesting, spontaneously, against the moral bankruptcy of our country! Trust the Captain [i.e., Bolsonaro]!”
Eduardo Bolsonaro, who was in Washington on January 6, 2021 to watch Donald Trump’s attempt to overthrow the American elections, posted the video with a quote from his father’s speech: “The current popular movements are the fruit of indignation and feeling of injustice with how the electoral process occurred.” As Trump led the fascist forces that stormed the US Capitol, he also presented them as a “popular” and “spontaneous” movement over which he had no control.
While Bolsonaro’s foot soldiers and closest political allies openly turn to the military demanding a coup, the Brazilian armed forces remain silent about the election. Folha de São Paulo reported about a private conversation with five active-duty generals in which the military “avoided condemning” the protests in front of the barracks which gained strength on Wednesday and “called the demonstrations democratic and peaceful.”
The growing political instability and authoritarian risks are being responded by the PT with a desperate attempt to accelerate the process of governmental transition. Behind the backs of the Brazilian population, in closed-door meetings in Brasília, they seek accommodations with right-wing forces in the state and military apparatus that waver over Bolsonaro.
The vice-president-elect Geraldo Alckmin, former governor of São Paulo with the right-wing PSDB, was assigned by the PT to coordinate this task. The PT’s choice was interpreted in the bourgeois media as an unequivocal gesture of subordination to the political right and to the market demands.
An editorial in Folha summarized the choice of Alckmin as a sign “of the president-elect’s disposition to form, as he promised in the campaign, a government that transcends the PT and opens itself to a wider range of collaborators and ideas. The MDB [the party that promoted the impeachment of PT President Dilma Rousseff], in fact, was invited to have a representative in the transition.”
On Thursday, during a visit to the Planalto Palace, Alckmin was invited by Bolsonaro to a private conversation in the presidential office. Without giving details, Alckmin told a press conference that the meeting was “positive” and consisted “in summary, [in] reiterating the commitments regarding the transition.” Asked about the protests demanding a military coup, supported by Bolsonaro, Alckmin replied that this is “so unreasonable that it doesn’t even deserve comment.”
The president of the PT, Gleisi Hoffmann, has been singled out as responsible for negotiating with allied parties to form the new government’s coalition. She is now in an offensive to broaden the PT support among right-wing parties. Seeking to reverse the opposition majority in parliament, Hoffmann phoned Federal Congressman Silvio Costa Filho of the Republicans, asking his help to bring his far-right party, one of the main pillars of Bolsonarismo, over to the PT’s side.
While opening channels with the far right, the PT seeks at all costs to anesthetize the population about the dictatorial threats and stifle any political expression of the working class.
Hoffmann promptly condemned the emergence of spontaneous workers’ confrontations with the fascist blockades and the demands from within the “social movements” linked to the PT to do the same. She responded that those responsible for stopping this pro-coup fascistic movement were the police and Bolsonaro himself! She declared: “I want to remind you [that] who is the president of Brazil at this moment is Jair Messias Bolsonaro. ... He has to resolve this so as not to harm the population.”
This morning, Hoffmann spoke out presenting the coup movement against the PT president-elect as a solved problem. “It seems to me that normality is already established,” she declared. According to Estado de São Paulo, she ruled out even the possibility of going to court “to demand measures against the organizers of the coup acts on the highways and, eventually, trying to hold Bolsonaro responsible for the instability that the country is experiencing since the close of the elections.”
It is remarkable how, at the same time that Bolsonaro closely follows Trump’s coup political playbook, the spineless response from the PT resembles that of the Democratic Party towards the movement that sought to topple him from power. Changing “Trump” for “Bolsonaro” and “Biden” for “Lula,” the analysis published by the World Socialist Web Site after the US Capitol’s invasion applies perfectly to the current situation in Brazil:
Normally, when confronted with an attempt to overthrow the constitutional regime, the political leader threatened by the conspiracy must immediately seek to deprive the traitors of all access to the mass media and a nationwide audience. But Biden, instead, called on Trump to appear on national television-to call off the insurrection he himself had organized!
Biden concluded his remarks with the following clarion call. “So, President Trump, step up.” This bankrupt appeal to the would-be fascist dictator will go down in history as Biden’s “Hitler, do the right thing” speech.
As the WSWS wrote, the response, whether from the Democrats or the PT, “to the fascist conspiracy is not dictated merely by cowardice or stupidity. Rather, as representatives of the financial-corporate oligarchy, they are frightened that the exposure of the criminal conspiracy and its political aims would ignite a mass response within the working class that would spiral into a movement against the capitalist state and the interests it serves.”
Recent events clearly show that the PT fears, much more than the real threat of a coup d’état, the emergence of such a mass movement of the working class in Brazil, which would necessarily bring social demands that would implode Lula’s political combinations with the bourgeoisie to return to power.