|The second and final round of the presidential election in Brazil was concluded on October 28. The candidate of the Social Liberal Party (PSL) Jair Bolsonaro, backed by domestic and foreign financial and big business interests, the military, large landowners and Evangelical churches, and notorious for his violent, uncouth speech, was elected with 57.8 million votes (55.1 per cent of valid votes cast). He will assume office for a four-year term on January 1, 2019. His designated vice president is a retired army general.
Fernando Haddad of the Workers' Party (PT), who with his running mate Manuela D'Ávila of the Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB) represented the coalition Brazil Happy Again, obtained just over 47 million votes (44.8 per cent).
There were 8.6 million spoiled ballots (7.4 per cent of all votes cast), reported to be the highest number since 1989 and 60 per cent more than in the last election, held in 2014. In addition, there were 2.5 million blank ballots cast (2.1 per cent). The total number of spoiled or blank ballots was 11 million, an increase of 7.5 per cent over the first round vote where turnout was slightly higher. Abstention was 21.3 per cent, (in Brazil it is compulsory for literate citizens between 18 and 70 years of age to vote).
Continuation of the Coup
From the beginning the election was stacked against the people, a continuation of the coup initiated with the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff in 2016. The focus then shifted to former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the PT's original presidential candidate, who was subjected to relentless persecution in the media and by a politicized judiciary determined to prevent him from being re-elected and reversing the direction Brazil was being taken under the outgoing coup government. Lula was convicted and jailed not on any material evidence, but on the testimony of a convicted criminal whose plea bargain was rewarded with a reduced sentence and the ability to keep some of his assets. This was followed by the unconstitutional denial of his right to continue as a candidate from prison and a ban on his giving media interviews, no doubt because this could have boosted the chances of a PT win.
But other dirty work took place as well. Less than two weeks before the election one of Brazil's biggest daily papers published a story which reported that an illegal slush fund was being used to carry out an ugly smear campaign against Fernando Haddad and Manuela D'Ávila over WhatsApp, a popular messaging application. The paper alleged that the fund was created by businessmen with deep pockets and linked to Bolsonaro.
In spite of all the obstacles thrown in their way the people's forces, often led by women, mobilized themselves in large numbers and in different ways in an effort to stave off the electoral coup that was in the making. Massive "Not Him" marches warning of the dangers of electing Bolsonaro and the possibility of Brazil's return to a military dictatorship took place all across the country and around the world. In the final week of the campaign people posted photos of themselves going out in the streets with signs inviting their fellow citizens to chat over coffee about what was at stake in the election, the threat posed by a return to power of the counterrevolutionary forces, and the importance of voting to prevent it.
Even though polls showed that Bolsonaro's lead diminished considerably during the final days of the campaign as the momentum grew, it was not enough to produce the hoped-for upset. In his concession speech after the results became known, Fernando Haddad said Brazil is going through a period in which all the institutions are being tested and in which civil, political, labour and social rights are at stake. It is not a time to be afraid he said, but to take heart and act together with courage, putting the interests of the Brazilian people above all else.
For his part Bolsonaro said he was going to "rescue Brazil," stating in his first pronouncement after being declared president-elect, "We cannot continue to flirt with socialism, communism, populism, and the extremism of the left." One of the first to call Bolsonaro and congratulate him was U.S. President Donald Trump whose spokesperson said the two were looking forward to "working side by side" as "regional leaders of the Americas." More recently, during a speech to the anti-Cuban mafia in Miami, Trump's National Security Advisor John Bolton welcomed the election of Bolsonaro as a "positive sign" for Latin America, giving the U.S. a new ally against Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.
The Communist Party of Brazil, the Popular Front of Brazil and the Fearless People's Front, all part of an alliance that came together in support of the candidacy of Haddad and Manuela released statements in which they acknowledged the challenges ahead and expressed their determination to immediately take up the fight for democracy and in defence of Brazil's sovereignty and for rights.
The PCdoB pointed to the necessity of organizing resistance and a vigorous opposition within all political and social sectors of the country and of building broad unity to be able to wage an effective fight in defence of democracy and the rights of the people, and to prevent the return to a state of exception in Brazil.
The fact that democratic and patriotic forces have lost no time getting into action again right after the election is a positive sign. By discussing how to proceed, building on the momentum developed over the past months, and putting their numbers and organization into play they are sure to make headway in the fight to deprive the reactionary forces of the power they have usurped to deprive the people of what is theirs by right. The working people of Canada and around the world stand as one with them as they prepare for the battles ahead.
For a Broad Union in Defence of Democracy, Brazil and the Rights of the People
by Communist Party of Brazil
The election of Jair Bolsonaro in the presidential election establishes a new political period in our country, marked by threats to the democracy, to the national patrimony, the sovereignty of the nation and the rights of the people. He was elected president of the Republic determined expressly to establish a dictatorial government, and to implement by fire and sword, an ultra-liberal, neo-colonial program.
The electoral ticket of Fernando Haddad as president and Manuela d'Ávila as vice president received more than 46 million votes and provided a converging point for the nation's democratic consciousness, laying the foundations for a vigorous opposition that begins right now.
There is a turn towards regression, deconstruction, and even the destruction of historic gains and achievements based on which, despite serious problems that persist, Brazil and the Brazilian people have risen up and flourished.
This became very clear in the run-up to the second-round campaign, when the Republic's institutions, such as the Federal Supreme Court (STF) and the Supreme Electoral Court (TSE), were threatened. Likewise, basic guarantees of the Federal Constitution, such as freedom of the press, to demonstrate and to organize political parties were attacked. The autonomy of universities was trampled underfoot. During the campaign, the president-elect pushed violence, intolerance and hatred among Brazilians, and vowed to imprison or ban the country's "red" citizens who disagree with him, and criminalize people's movements and entities.
Given the importance of Brazil -- which has an economy among the ten largest in the world -- this reactionary rupture will have a strong regressive impact on Latin America.
The trigger for it all was the coup of August 2016, which is now being consolidated with the extreme right forming the government of the Republic. There is a rupture in the construction of democracy, restarted in 1985 after the end of the military dictatorship, through an electoral process that took place with the Democratic Rule of Law suffocated by the State of Exception. The elected candidate's preaching with a fascist tone emerged from this, though not without being confronted by the democratic forces -- a trend that will certainly be strengthened in the new political scenario.
The integrity of the elections was corrupted to favour the right-wing candidacy, through illegal means, in the style of the so-called hybrid war that entails the large-scale use of false, so-called fake news, an enterprise financed criminally by big business people, as denounced in the press. Illicit means such as these, among others, interfered in the results of the polls. They are rightly under investigation in the Electoral Court, from which thorough and swift instructions are expected, with decisions in accord with the seriousness of what happened.
The resistance of the democratic, progressive, popular and patriotic forces begins, backed by the strong vote obtained by the Fernando Haddad-Manuela d'Ávila ticket and stands taken by personalities and institutions that have spoken out to defend democracy and the Constitution.
Resistance and vigorous opposition must be organized within the whole political and social life of the country, beginning with the National Congress and other legislative bodies, extending to social movements, working class organizations, sectors of the business community, academia, intellectuals, artists, the legal world, religious sectors, and even the members of institutions of the Republic. Governors and mayors of the democratic camp will play an important role in this endeavour.
With this new reality, which represents a break with the cycle of advancement of democracy initiated in the so-called New Republic, the Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB), as it has always done throughout its history, stands firmly in the trench of the uncompromising defence of the nation, democracy and the Brazilian people.
The Communist Party of Brazil, an almost hundred-year-old legend, since the time of the Old Republic has fought together with the other progressive forces of the country against all the authoritarian and tyrannical governments and regimes that have infested the history of the Republic. Based on this experience, the PCdoB conveys to the Brazilian people the certainty and confidence that, despite the serious threats that menace the country, it will not be easy for Bolsonaro to accomplish his obsession with burying Brazilian democracy. It has put down deep roots in the country's soil, costing the nation many struggles and lives. Progressively, from the millions and millions who voted for and supported the candidacy of Haddad as president and Manuela as vice president, a majority will rise to defend democracy, and it will win once again.
To this end, the PCdoB addresses the people and the democratic forces of the country and calls on all to begin, as of today, building a broad unity with the objective of opening horizons for a civic, patriotic, democratic and popular journey, and to create barriers against the return of a State of Exception regime and in defence of democracy, Brazil and the rights of the people.
São Paulo, October 28, 2018.
Luciana Santos, Member of Parliament, President of the Communist Party of Brazil National Executive Committee of the Communist Party of Brazil