By Kumar David –
Although Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva won the presidential election by a popular vote of 60.3 million (50.9%) votes to Bolsonaro’s 58.3 million (49.1%) the balance of power in the Brazilian Congress remains deadlocked. This will affect the President’s ability to push through legislation
The need for a wide coalition, regardless of who won the election, will prevent sharp changes in policy. No candidate commands a majority in either senate or the chamber of deputies. Either will need to negotiate. Brazil’s political history shows that governments that suffer a recession are unable to finish their term or failed to be re-elected. Also, Brazil is less well positioned to resist the impact of an economic slowdown in the U.S. and China. Rising interest rates will discourage consumption and also reduce domestic corporate investment, exacerbating a lower export demand.
Jair Bolsinaro (JrB) is a rightist militarist with no respect for democracy. He has not accepted his electoral defeat and is like Trump endeavouring to reject the election result and may, again like Trump attempt a political coup. There is however one major factor which blocks JrB – the surge to the left in Central and South America. Beginning with Mexico two years ago there has been an electoral left sweep in Central & South America; Columbia, Argentina, Honduras, Peru Nicaragua and Chile, not mention old fashioned Stalinist grouches in Cuba and Venezuela. My case is that it is a new ball-game in South and Central America and JrB and US Administration have been caught off-guard. While the US can be expected to behave circumspectly JrB will be under pressure from internal class forces and from the right. Corporate interests see an opportunity to push through an adjustment in the sharing of economic power. There is pressure to raise dividends and to restrict the share accruing to wages. With a rightist semi-fascist in power this is not an opportunity that the business classes can afford to miss. Neo-Nazi slogans are being bellowed at pro-JrB rallies. Presidential electoral results up and down the continent however defy such an adventure. Most likely there will be an unsettled decade of conflict in the continent with the United States oddly playing mediator.
The sweep of left and right extremism all over the world adds spice and seasoning to instability. How things pan out in the US will be the trend setter. As you read this in the inside pages the outcome of the November 8 US mid-term Congressional elections will grab headlines across the world. A sweeping victory for the Trump forces will signal new instability in the US – street conflicts about abortion rights, dangerous gun laws and electoral gerrymandering. Forecasts are on a knife edge and if anything, they are drifting towards an advantage to the right-wing. We will know the results of the US Congressional elections before this goes to print. The Neanderthal majority in the Supreme Court opened a Pandora’s Box on the day it reversed Roe v. Wade. In a landmark decision in 1973 the court had ruled that the US constitution struck down moral and religious obstacles to abortion and conferred the right to have an abortion on the mother and on medical opinion. The decision to reverse this has led to the present abortion debate in the US about whether, or to what extent, abortion should be legal and who should decide on the legality. Both sides are bucking down to what will be a fight to the death.
Americans are talking about civil war. In August, after the FBI raided Donald Trump’s Florida home, Twitter references to “civil war” jumped 3,000%. Trump supporters went online, tweeting threats that it would start if Trump was indicted. Lindsey Graham, Republican senator for South Carolina, said there will be riots if Trump is indicted. “Ahead of the midterm elections this week half of all Americans fear the country will erupt within a decade” says American political scientist Barbara F Walters in the Guardian (6 Nov) and adds “judges will be assassinated, Democrats will be jailed on bogus charges, black churches and synagogues bombed”. President Biden says that he expects a frontal assault on democracy. Is it up to me to downplay these fears? The conduct of the US State, deep-state and Administration and the outcome of tensions within America are not predictable. “The US will do this” or “the US will do that” expectations are overly simple. Here are some of the US involvement in regime change related initiatives since WW2.
1948–1960 Italy, 1949 Syria, 1953 Iran,1954 Guatemala, 1957–58 Indonesia, 1959–2000 attempts to assassinate Castro, 1960 Congo, 1961 Bay of Pigs, 1961 Dominica, 1963 South Vietnam, 1964 Brazil coup, 1965–66 Indonesian genocide, 1966 Ghana, 1971 Bolivia, 1970–1973 Chile, 1976 Argentina, 1979 Salvador, 1975–1992 Angola-UNITA, 1981–1990 Nicaragua-Contras, 1982 Chad, NATO encirclement of Russia, Sycamore militarisation of Arab countries, , 2022Ukraine. This is only a partial list.
The present time like the late 1920s and the 1930s is an unusual historical period and the instabilities in the US are compounded by the rise of extremisms throughout the world. Recent examples are Taliban lunacy in Afghanistan, the murder of Prime Minister Abe in Japan, the attempt on Imran Khans’ life (Imran accused his successor Shehbaz Sharif and the military of involvement), victory of an anti-Palestinian Netanyahu government in Palestine-Israel and Kim Jon Ills missile antics. It’s not a nice world that we are living in. Gone are the halcyon days of the post-war welfare-state. The vultures have come home to roost and they are hungry. The failure of world capitalism to deliver an acceptable quality of life to the people of the world has created all manner of tensions on the world scene.
What I am emphasising, perhaps ad-nauseam, is that (a) extremism of all forms is making the US and its allies dysfunctional, (b) expecting US foreign policy to be in smooth conformity with its previously predictable norms is no longer realistic, (c) the world may be tittering on the brink of a global recession and this will have consequences and (d) the ball-game in South & Central America will be different and JairB is clearly caught with his pants down and his crown jewels dangling . We live in extraordinary times.
Lula has to mobilise; he will be forced to do so in by the working class and activist forces around him. Enough of this pussyfooting! All this time he has been pandering to an expected swing in the middle vote-base and did not want to rock the boat. Well that strategy has served its purpose; now it’s time to move on and confront JairB military-fascist threats. Events and the Base will mobilise in any case. Thy have no choice but to transform in a decisive way to confront and to abolish the military threat and the semi-fascist pall that hangs over the country, nay the South & Central American continent. I am Panglossian, you blurt out! Bollocks I respond!!