Monday, October 02, 2006

Brazilian Left makes breakthrough.

The exit polls from Brazil are showing that Heloisa Helena, the P-Sol senator who stood as a candidate for the Left Front against Lula's corrupt neoliberalism, has taken 7% of the vote, less than the 10% exit polls gave her, but still an excellent result. Helena was expelled from the PT when she refused to support the former CEO of the Bank of Boston as head of the Central Bank, and was instrumental in setting up P-Sol, the largest left-wing opposition party in Brazil. Exit polls suggest that if Helena asks her voters to back Lula in the second round, half will do so, but only 3% will vote for Alckmin, the trailing opposition candidate from the right-wing PSDB. In all likelihood, Lula will win, but now knows he faces a substantial threat to his left. This is important because if there had not been a united left candidate, those votes would either have gone down to apathy or would have slid into the pocket of Alckmin. It is also important because Lula has shown a willingness at every turn to make deals with the hard right and enforce ruthless discipline within his party against those who refuse to acquiesce in his IMF-sponsored programme. Social-democratic parties have done this everywhere because they believe they can afford to take their base for granted.

The most important determinant of Brazil's future is what the workers movement can achieve and it has to be mentioned that the MST, the landless workers movement, is perhaps the most successful grassroots movement in Latin America. Lula can only succeed in weakening trade union power and enforcing recessionary measures to the extent that they allow him. But now many of his loyal senators will not only have to worry about restraining the labour movement, but also about the possibility of losing power.