The impeachment of Dilma Roussef's and the dilemma of the left-wing opposition in Brazil

Valerio Arcary


Here’s how things stand schematically: there are two simultaneous processes at play. Dilma Roussef of the Workers Party was impeached by the National Congress, under the direction of conservative icons Eduardo Cunha and Aécio Neves. We have since may 2016 a transitional government of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) led by Michel Temer . This government will include the poorly-named Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB). Meanwhile, we see a corresponding change in the balance of forces between the classes: an offensive of the bourgeoisie under the pressure of economic contraction, which could see the GDP decline by 4% in 2016, the third year of economic contraction, deeper dissatisfaction among the middle class faced with growing inflation, and the corruption allegations flowing from Operation Lava Jato, and, in contrast, resistance by trade unions is on the rise with the number of strikes growing since 2012. The Lava Jato investigation has sent shivers up the spines of hundreds of deputies in the National Congress, while an indisputable unease has settled over corporate boardrooms. For three decades, the streets were spaces occupied almost entirely by social forces supported by the working class, the students, and the oppressed and exploited. But something had changed. The protests in March and August of 2015 made visible an almost subterranean nucleus that, if it remained divided against itself and led erratically, was nonetheless able to mobilize middle-class sectors on a large scale, and even dragged a minority of popular sectors (mostly brought out by churches) behind it. And, this nucleus began to pull the institutional right in its wake. All the while, social polarization sharpened, thereby reducing the space for the political center that had prevailed for the previous twenty years.
The growth of the right-wing opposition’s authority over the middle class is, obviously, a step backwards because it strengthens the reactionary project of replacing the Dilma government with one committed to an even more violently regressive economic shock. If Dilma is overthrown then the most likely outcome will not be new elections but Temer taking over the government in coalition with the PSDB. This government would be confronted with the necessity of continuing austerity policies and, most probably, deepening anti-popular measures due to unforeseen circumstances long before the next elections scheduled for 2018.
On the one hand, the collapse of the PT’s influence in the working class is a progressive development because it opens up greater space for the left to reorganize the workers movement. For Marxists, when the ruling class is divided, that is, when there is a serious political crisis, opportunities as well as dangers arise. More important still, we must understand that the weakening of the PT is providing a political and historical space among the workers, especially the youth. The whole historic experience with the PT must be carried through to the end. It shouldn’t be interrupted in such a way as to allow its current victimization by the “conservative” wave to legitimize, in the future, the return of a “new PT.”
Any analysis that takes account of intermediary social layers’ displacement to the right but fails to note the importance of the rupture between the workers and the PT is one sided. While those who downplay the significance of the middle classes mobilizations of 2015 and 2016 only commit the diametrically opposed error.
The reality is complicated. These two processes are developing dramatically, side by side.

Brazil - Workers Party - Lula - impeachment