News in brief / FRFI 194 Dec 2006 / Jan 2007

Brazilian elections
On 29 October President Lula won his second presidential election, increasing his first round vote of 48.61% to 60.83%. His supporters were the poor, from the least developed parts of the country and city slums. But this personal vote couldn ’t conceal the loss of four Senatorial and eight Chamber of Deputies seats in the 1 October legislative vote. Already a minority party, depending on the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) and a range of smaller parties for support, the Workers Party now faces more difficulties in governing. The PMDB holds 108 seats in both houses (about 20%), an increase of 14 seats, compared to the Workers Party’s 93 (about 16%). The majority of the PMDB vote for Lula in a waiting game. Lula is in no position to challenge his domestic bourgeoisie or imperialism. He has conformed to the demands of the IMF which itself, as in Chile and Argentina, is now prepared to see a minimum expenditure on the poor, the creation of a sector of state paupers, who, saved from starvation, are just that bit less likely to drive radical change. As in Nicaragua the process favours social democratic illusions whilst new formulae are concocted to increase the low rate of capital accumulation at the further expense of the workers.

The 5 November presidential election victory of Daniel Ortega of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) over US-backed investment banker Eduardo Montealegre, represents a shift in the political agenda of the national bourgeoisie. Ortega is conciliatory towards the US, but the US, in the form of former Defence Secretary Rumsfeld, issued veiled threats to influence the election result. The criminal Oliver North visited Managua and also told people not to vote for Ortega. North was US President Reagan ’s aide in funding the ‘contras’, whose counter-revolutionary campaign between 1980 and 1990 was responsible for the deaths of 50,000 Nicaraguans. The FSLN now supports church-backed legislation outlawing all grounds for abortion. The Sandinista Renewal Movement, which accuses Ortega of opportunism, took six seats from the FSLN in the National Assembly elections. Nicaragua is the second poorest state in the Americas after Haiti, 80% of Nicaraguans live on less than $1 a day. While the FSLN holds the presidency they remain a minority in the Assembly. Close ties to the US will be maintained but the rejection of the favoured US candidate is a rejection of US bullying.
Alvaro Michaels

FRFI 194 December 2006 / January 2007


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