[Marxism] MST sum up their view of Brazil elections

Fred Fuentes fred.fuentes at gmail.com
Sat Nov 25 02:07:58 MST 2006


Dear Friends of the MST,

Now that the election has passed, the votes counted, and the winners
and losers are known, the moment arrives to sum it up and to look
ahead. Even more than counting the number of progressive congressmen
and governors elected, we need to make an effort to analyze how we did
and sum up the wins and challenges for the coming period.

For some time now, we have been noticing that the left was going to
participate in these elections in a divided and fragmented way. There
are many causes for this and certainly our understanding will be
deepened and discussed in the coming months. Nevertheless two points
deserve to be highlighted. The disappointment with the Lula
government, which was incapable of breaking with the neoliberal policy
carried out by previous governments; and the way in which some sectors
of the left copied the bourgeois style of politics, which resulted in
a series of accusations of cases of corruption and of electoral

Faced with this scenario, the big question was how to position
ourselves and what to get out of the electoral process. For us in the
MST, we made the decision that by the end of this period we had to
maintain our political unity and our autonomy relative to the
political parties and to the governments.

The first round

The election campaign was completely de-politicized. There were no
discussions of political projects and the parties of the left showed
that they do not have any organizing, ideological, or political
strategies. The Lula government, believing that it would win in the
first round, prioritized publicity around its welfare policies and the
establishment of a broad range of party alliances from the left to the
right. As a result, social activism was not called on and the popular
movements felt themselves shoved to the sides in the electoral

For some time now, various sectors of the left and of the social
movements have analyzed that the democracy of the bourgeois state,
which restricts popular participation only to the electoral periods,
has been exhausted. For these political forces that do not disrespect
the electoral process, the priority is to increase the levels of
organization and consciousness of the population and promote the
social struggle. These elements are essential for changing the
correlation of forces with the bourgeoisie, promoting changes, and
creating concrete mechanisms for direct popular participation in the
legislative decisions and in the executive. For this reason, they
indicate that political reform cannot restrict itself only to periodic
changes but rather seek as a main goal to ensure that the people
exercise power.

The strategy of the re-election of the Lula government, demonstrated
by its campaign coordination, excluded discussion about strategic
projects for the country and the defense of its class interests. This
fact, added to the case of the attempt to buy the dossier, helped
distance the activists and the popular forces that wanted to
politicize the campaign. On the other hand, the right, without any
scruples, used all its strength in the mass media to rally around the
candidacy of Geraldo Alckmin (PSDB). In this way, they succeeded in
taking the election to the second round and energizing the various
right-wing candidates in the states.

The second round

In the second round, along with other social movements meeting in the
Coordination of Social Movements (CMS) and in La Via Campesina Brazil,
we evaluated that it was possible at the time to promote a real
discussion of ideas, of political projects and of the class struggle.
It was necessary to prevent the political forces gathered around the
Alckmin campaign from winning this election. We did not share the idea
that the two candidates were equal.

There were divergent class interests around each candidate. At a
minimum, the victory of Lula would symbolically represent the victory
of the working class, the maintenance of alliances in Latin America
with progressive governments and respect for the social movements.
This new positioning in the electoral process caused us to engage in
the campaign for the re-election of Lula. This did not mean ignoring
the errors and the weaknesses of the first round. Among them, the lack
of a clear project to face the people's structural problems by
carrying out Agrarian Reform.

Besides seeking the politicization of the presidential election and
showing that, independent of Lula's government, we were in a class
struggle, we evaluated that the second round of the elections could
serve to make possible the participation of the people's movements,
seeking greater unity around the idea of building a popular project
for the country. It's undeniable that the decision was correct and
victorious. The majority of the social movements took part in the
discussions and in the campaign. But all this without illusions and
with the ever-greater conviction that the transformations come from
the actions of the people themselves. From there, the need for the
people's movements to have autonomy, theoretical elaboration, and
capacity for mobilization.

The new term in office

With the Lula government assured of one more term, it's time to demand
political changes that serve the interests of the people. The
President, in his first speeches after his re-election, highlighted
the need to promote economic development associated with measures of
distribution of wealth and income.

This statement cannot be limited to the enthusiasm of a person who
electorally defeated the bourgeoisie. It's necessary for it to be
transformed into concrete actions. This requires a break with
neoliberal political economy and above all a confrontation with the
powerful interests of those who monopolize the rural and urban lands,
communications, and the financial system.

It is also necessary for us to fight for the solidarity-based
integration of the Latin-American countries to be strengthened, in a
way which confronts U.S. imperialism and is counterpoised to the
colonizing mentality of the Brazilian elite. Thus, we must charge even
more the re-elected government to immediately withdraw the Brazilian
military from Haiti and implement a policy of solidarity with the
people of that country.

Political reform is necessary, but it needs to serve the interests of
the people and not that of the politicians. It needs to create new
mechanisms of participation, to implement assemblies and councils,
participatory budgeting, plebiscites and popular referendums.

These are challenges that fall to the re-elected government. But they
are also challenges to the social forces that want to build a country
based on democracy, social justice, sovereignty, and in defense of the

We in the MST and other social movements continue with our role of
contributing to raise the consciousness and organization of the
Brazilian people. To activate the social struggles and build new
uniting forces around a new project for the country – this is the work
that we have ahead of us!

A warm embrace,

National Secretariat of the MST

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