FIRST OF THREE PARTS
The second part of this message will not be sent to the LBO list since it only contains the whole thread on the subject matter. It is being sent only to the copied people, who are not subscribers of the LBO list (well, I'm not so sure...).
Doug Henwood said: "Those of you who think that global deflation will be a political opportunity for the left - why is Lula almost certain to lose badly in Brazil's election this Sunday?"
Louis Proyect answered: "I would ask this on the Marxism list. There are a number of Brazilians who lurk there. I suspect that the Workers Party is stuck on the horns of a dilemma. It is too much of an electoral formation to ever challenge capitalist rule, and is also too radical to win electorally. It is roughly in the same position as the Cardenas party in Mexico, which is left-wing but not revolutionary."
John Kreeger and Richard Gibson have also sent specific messages on Brazil (transcribed in the third part of this message ).
Brazilians lurk here too... ---but for good, Louis, I suppose! :>) LBO list is so active and interesting as the PT's one (Partido dos Trabalhadores, the Workers' Party) but there is no time enough to intervene ubiquitously and in different languages!
PT is the party of Lula (nickname of Luiz Inácio da Silva). It is the largest party of Latin America (in number of votes) and the only great left wing party of Brazil. There are many candidates running for President, but the bulk of the votes will be directed either to Lula or to the incumbent neoliberal President Fernando Henrique Cardoso -- or FHC, since he is also known by his initials, as FDR was :>) I think that is needless to mention in this list that the meaning of "liberal" in USA is different elsewhere. FHC is running for a second term thanks to the approval by the Congress of a historic constitutional amendment that allows a President to be re-elected, for the first time in Brazil.
For the time being I am just going to sketch the following points of view, as follows.
A) A 2nd CHANCE, PLEASE? Yes, PT's nominee Lula will almost certainly lose in Brazil's election this Sunday and the defeat paradoxically is the best result for the reasons which I am going to set hereinafter. Notwithstanding this, I guess that he will not lose so badly and that there are chances of running in a second ticket if no candidate reaches the absolute majority. Lula has thrice been the unsuccessful candidate of the left wing coalition People's Union (1989, 1994 and now). By the way, it is the first time that all left wing parties join together in a election for President, excepting the former expelled section of PT that is the Trots PSTU and the nationalist party PMN.
B) A FAIRY TALE. Brazil is at the edge of the grimmest economic crisis of her history (or the deepening of the current one). The unemployment rate (official estimates) already surpassed its former highest historical peak. Notwithstanding this, FHC propaganda has successfully been spreading the idea that the crisis is an international one, not Brazilian, and that Brazil is being unjustly punished by the financial speculation although the government has done everything right. By the way, both Clinton and Camdessus (the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund) told recently the same fairy tale as if everybody in Earth is so gullable. If you go to the URL <http://www.imf.org/external/np/speeches/1998/091598.HTM> you will find an address by this latter one that although named Crisis in Emerging Market Economies is obsessively focused on Brazil and frequently mentions Pedro Malan, the Finance Minister.
C) CONSEQUENCES TO THE WORLD. The consequences to the world will be worse than both the Russian and the Korean crisis, since: 1) the exposure of international banks (specially US ones) is very larger here, though I think that they could cope with the situation, albeit suffering heavy losses; 2) Argentina will soon follow suit, since both countries are closely knitted ---we say of each other: "I'm today what you will be tomorrow" :>) ; 3) Brazil roughly represents half of Latin America (Mexico included) in economy, territory and population and in a second round the rest of the subcontinent will probably take the same path or will have its situation worsened; 4) however her share in the world trade is not a material one, Brazil is the ninth or eight economy of the world (GNP measured, estimates vary), she is more than twice as big as Russia's (the incredible shrinking country), and she is an important trading partner of USA outside Japan and the European Union.
D) BAD REMEMBRANCES. Albeit the "explanation" in B above is quite naïf, people have accepted it or, better saying: they psychologically NEED to accept it. Starting as Finance Minister in 1994 in the I. Franco's administration and after becoming President on Jan. 1, 1995, FHC has whipped hyperinflation and so is deemed to have "stabilized" the economy with the so called "Real Plan" (real is the name of the new currency, pledged to the US dollar, that overplaced the old cruzeiro). Now in 1998 the official annual inflation rate is practically zero and prices do have been enjoying a stabilization never heard of since the thirties. Only those who have lived under an inflation rate superior to 2,500% per annum, under five currency standard changes in eight years and under a myriad economic salvation plans that led to nowhere are able to know how people staunchly support anything that seems to have been working well for four years. Is there any German citizen around here, by the way?
E) INFO MANIPULATION. Public opinion in Brazil is in a great extent made up by TV, which is private and highly monopolized. The nationwide Globo network, for instance, is one of the biggest radio and TV networks in the world. Subliminar FHC propaganda, however illegal, is in the factious news programs and even in the commercial ads, what is made easier because it is difficult to distinguish what is the information about the acts of the incumbent President (FHC) and his ministers and the acts of FHC as a candidate. Lula and the left are contrariwise subject to adverse coverage or no coverage at all. All the leading daily newspapers and weekly reviews also are in the hands of the same right wing cartels. Debatable public opinion polls are under suspicion since they may demobilize rank and file militants (PT's militancy still is the most productive and disciplined, however in sharp decline) and there are people who tend to follow the apparent winner.
F) GOVERNMENT MISBEHAVIOR. Needless to say that FHC is widely using the federal government facilities to help his campaign in more or less disguised ways, although it is outrightly forbidden by the electoral statute. The federal courts, however being independent from the executive branch of government, are rejecting all judicial suits filed by the opposition parties against such abuse on the grounds of the "beyond any doubt" felony requisiteness. There are growing suspicions of fraud schemes in some cities, although the election is thoroughly computerized.
G) PROPAGANDA OVERFLOOD. There will also be chosen the 27 new states governors (including the governor of the national capital, Brasííia, where PT may win), all the members of the states assemblies, the 513-member federal lower house (equivalent to the House of Representatives in USA) and one third of the federal Senate. Although there is a mandatory time for political propaganda in TV and radio it is not sufficient at all to know the candidates and their plans, even considering that TV transmissions are broadcasted to each state separately. FHC has successfully avoided the living debate in TV and radio. People get satured of political propaganda and tend to switch their sets off. There are about 25,000 candidates all over the country and so people get confused, because they must cast their ballots according to the candidate (not the party).
H) DISTRESSING INTERNAL PARTY WARFARE. PT internal quarrels look like those of the social democratic parties before World War I. Better saying: the old German SD, since it has nowadays an encumbering bureaucracy. PT is splitting (since 1985 !) in at least two factions: an anticapitalist wing and the social democratic one. This latter is in control of the campaign and it behaves quite cautiously as not to arise the fears of the middle classes against socialism, communism and the alike (although a good part of the middle classes vote PT). They even tried to overplace the red star of PT and its red flag with totally white ones, but were compelled to get back the red color under both internal pressure and the pressure of the allied parties. The encumbering right wing of PT fears like the devil to be called "radicals", "extremists", "atheistics" and so on. Anyhow, they are not convincing to their target constituency. It is this right wing that is most "stuck on the horns of a dilemma", as Louis Proyect said pretty well.
=======IT CONTINUES IN THE SECOND PART================