As in all political systems under the capitalist system, elections in Brazil are a mockery of democracy. The state and the bourgeois parties organize themselves to brainwash the people; newspapers, radio, television, the clergy, everything is bought and mobilized by the bourgeoisie to generate propaganda for the upcoming elections of the bourgeois candidates. The toiling masses are thereby deceived, duped into imagining that they are actually determining their own future while, paradoxically private ownership of the means of production is maintained. In fact, the working class is simply invited to elect its butcher for the next four years. We, Bolshevik revolutionaries, understand that workers' struggles against the rule of capital and its state are not decided in super-structural realms of bourgeois democracy.
While we oppose electioneering, we are not opposed to electoral politics. The elections of bourgeois democracies can afford opportunities for revolutionaries to denounce the elections as a sham, while making propaganda of our revolutionary program.
The Workers' Party-PT is already finishing its third term in office, having come to power in 2003, with Lula da Silva serving as president for two terms and Dilma Rousseff filling this office during the last four years. The PT-led government is a Popular Front government in which sections of the bourgeoisie form part of the government. The PT’s current candidate for vice president, running alongside Dilma Roussef, is Michel Temer from the bourgeois party PMDB. The PT government has an ally in the Popular Party (PP) led by the notorious right-wing politician Paulo Maluf, infamous as the governor of São Paulo during the military dictatorship who repressed all social movements and workers' strikes.
In this context, we should understand the PT government’s caving into many of the demands made by imperialism during in the last 12 years: pension reform, privatization of roads and airports, the financing of export agribusiness, financial support to large banks and large multinational companies headquartered in Brazil, etc. At the end of his second term as president, Lula noted that "the bankers have never had as huge profits as during in my administration." Internationally, at the behest of American imperialism, Brazil sent troops to Haiti. There are numerous reports of abuse and violence against Haitian workers by Brazilian soldiers. But because the PT needed to provide some answers for the masses, they pushed forward some minimum social assistance policies – the family allowance, a monthly bonus for the poorest families.
In recent years, to ensure Brazil’s hosting of the World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, the federal government, with the help of state governments, has imposed harsh repressive measures to bring huge profits to billionaires from these two events. The Collectivo Lenin group, headquartered in Rio de Janeiro, wrote the following in its blog: "We live under a wave of political arrests unprecedented since the dictatorship. The military police’s sealing off of the Tijuca favela, in Rio de Janeiro, during which 500 protestors were under house arrest, and the inhabitants of the entire neighborhood were incommunicado for the World Cup final, demonstrated that the bourgeoisie parties are prepared to tear to shreds the minimal legal guarantees made by the Constitution in order to prevent struggles against the consequences of these mega-events. And these consequences have been the uprooting of entire communities. The presence of UPPs – Pacification Police Units – in the favelas is an attempt to hide drug trafficking while at the same time increasing the militarization of the slums, in parallel to the absurd increases in rent and public transportation." (1)
Naturally, the fact that the PT rules just like any other bourgeois party caused a great deal of disappointment among various organized sectors of the working class. Lula’s 2003 pension reform led to the breakup of a sector of the PT which founded the PSOL. The PSTU was encouraged to break with the central trade union (CUT) directed by the PT and to found the Conlutas, representing part of federal public workers. Corruption scandals, such as the monthly bonuses (mensalão) arranged by Lula to encourage deputies to vote in favor of his government, and the case of the US refinery in Pasadena under the Dilma’s administration are direct consequences of the PT’s popular front tactics which make a government of the bourgeoisie, by the bourgeoisie, and for the bourgeoisie.
What are the Electoral Options in Left Field?
Let us now analyze the options offered by leftist parties, or those posing as leftists. The PSOL, PSTU, and the PCO each have their own candidates.
The PSOL (Party of Socialism and Liberty) which emerged in 2005 following the split of various groups within the PT claimed who they wanted to rescue the origins of the PT. But after all these years, this party has made an extraordinary shift to the right. Its candidate for president, Luciana Genro, openly declared that "there is no problem in receiving donations from companies." Roberto Robaina, campaign coordinator and chief advisor of Luciana Genro, told Reuters: "We have received the money (from the Brazilian multinational Gerdau) and we are already spending it." Furthermore, in 2012, during the elections for mayor in the city of Rio de Janeiro, the PSOL candidate, Marcelo Freixo, was supported by DEM and PSDB. DEM has its roots in the ARENA party which governed during the military dictatorship; PSDB is the direct representative of US-EU imperialism in Brazil and the main opposition party to the PT. The turn to the right by PSOL is reflected in its positions against abortion and the criminalization of "black block" activists in protest movements that have emerged since June 2013.
The PSTU (United Socialist Workers' Party) is that of LIT-Morenoite in Brazil. Its candidate for president is Zé Maria, a former metalworker. The PSTU has been trying for several years to form a broad Left Front, with PSOL as its main ally. This attempt has failed mainly because of PSOL’s refusal to ally itself with PSTU, seeing no electoral advantage in doing so. The PSTU finds no problem in attempting to form an alliance with a party like the PSOL which receives funding from the bourgeoisie. However, the PSTU itself, while it does not receive funding from the bourgeoisie, has adopted policies of absolute centrism in recent years.
Despite their radical rhetoric resembling that of the PSTU, in 2009, without even issuing a call for an indefinite strike, their central union, CONLUTAS, accepted the dismissal of more than 4,000 workers from Embraer, a Brazilian multinational that manufactures commercial and military aircraft in the region of São José dos Campos-SP. This cowardly surrender opened the door for massive layoffs during subsequent years by other multinationals such as GM’s firing of thousands of workers. In the realm of trade union politics, PSTU-Conlutas isn’t very different than the Workers' Party-PT.
In their electoral campaign, which they take in earnest, the PSTU has even broken with what any Trotskyist party sees as one of its main pillars: Proletarian internationalism. The party has taken a position strongly against the arrival of Cuban doctors in Brazil in the context of the federal government’s "More Doctors" program. This program, inspired by the model implemented in Venezuela by Chavez, is intended to ensure the presence of doctors both in the great metropolises (São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, etc.) as well as in the most remote regions of the country like the Amazon, the Northeast, etc.
Furthermore, the party’s policy towards repressive state bodies, specifically the Military Police, completely breaks with the Leninist policy regarding the roll of agents of repression. One of the main actions of the Russian Revolution of 1917 was the dismantling of the police. But in its federal CSP-Conlutas Trade Union, the PSTU has members from the police associations (the latter are prohibited from creating their own trade unions). This puts in direct contact as “colleagues” the leaders of social resistance movements with representatives of repressive police groups. (2)
The left-centrist PCO (Workers Cause Party) has as its candidate for president the journalist Rui Costa. For years the PCO has participated in Brazil’s presidential elections, always winning a very low percentage of votes. In the last presidential elections held in 2010, the combined total number of votes cast for the candidates of the PCO, PSTU, PSOL, and PCB was less than 1% of the electorate. This being the case, the analysis of the survey data regarding the appeal of the PCO among the masses is equally applicable to the other parties: it is regarded by the press as being far-left, i.e., the bourgeois press puts the PCO as far to the left as PSOL and PSTU. This has consequences: in a largely conservative electorate, the penetration of the PCO in the working class is very limited. However, the PCO is the only remaining party presenting its electoral program on television and radio and warning that “bourgeois elections are useless for the working class, and only benefit the bourgeoisie.” Furthermore they maintain that “the social revolution is the way for the working class.” Important too, considering the obvious lack of democracy in the current electoral laws of Brazil, in which the very small parties are prevented from to competing, the PCO has opened up its party for the other far-left groups so that the latter can run in elections under their own party program.
The PCO supports the complete abolition of the police. According to a report by the OAB-RJ (Order of Lawyers of Brazil-Rio de Janeiro section) police in Brazil are among the biggest killers in the world. According to this data, between 2001 and 2011, there was an astonishing increase in the number of deaths caused by police and registered as "resistance." The number of such deaths peaked in 2007. In Rio de Janeiro, 12,000 acts of resistance were analyzed; 60% were pure and simple execution, many victims having been shot in the neck.
We have no programmatic agreement with the PCO. We have very different views when it comes to the characterization of the contemporary roles of Russia and China which we see as imperialist countries. We do not advocate the release of criminals from PT like former minister José Dirceu and former PT leader José Genoíno. Contrary to the PCO, we advocate that the movement "We will not have the Cup" had legitimate claims because of the repressive apparatus that displaced thousands of people from their homes and because of the continued shortage that is still happening in public hospitals, public health in general, housing and education. However, the PCO has not crossed the class line as has the PSOL and they have not betrayed or boycotted the struggles of workers' strikes as PSTU and PSOL have, and still do. For this reason, the Brazilian CCR-section of RCIT gives critical electoral support to PCO.