The constant calls on social networks in Brazil for the need to forge a great political alliance against the radical Bolsonarist right have translated into rather little before the municipal elections this Sunday. Only in three of the 27 capitals have left-wing parties managed to put aside their differences to present a single candidate. It will not be easy to assess the strength of President Jair Bolsonaro because he is without a party and his allies, scattered by various acronyms. But it will serve to measure the balance of forces on the left, where the PSOL (Socialism and Freedom Party) is gaining strength, a formation born in 2004 from a split from the Workers' Party that has been gaining traction after the corruption and corruption scandals. the visceral hatred that Lula da Silva's training still awakens. His main claim is an activist and university professor, Guilherme Boulos, 38, who as a candidate for mayor of São Paulo has the possibility of going to the second round, according to polls.
Brazilians vote to elect the mayors and councilors of more than 5,000 municipalities in the first elections since the unexpected victory of the national popular Bolsonaro in 2018. The elections were delayed by the pandemic. The vote has been delayed in the state of Amapá, which was left without power 11 days ago due to a fire and is still suffering serious damage. The polls indicate that the big winners will be the acronyms that proliferate in the center, populated by candidates who unite personal interests rather than ideological issues. Meanwhile, the candidates sponsored by Bolsonaro in São Paulo and Rio are doing poorly in the polls.
Within the left, the momentum that the PSOL – the party of the murdered councilwoman Marielle Franco – has been gaining is evident in the face of a declining PT that polls predict poor results in the main cities. One of the great political paradoxes is that, nevertheless, the PT remains the best-oiled electoral machine in Brazil.
After a campaign act on Wednesday in São Paulo, Boulos assured in statements to this newspaper that the PSOL supports the PT in more cities than vice versa and criticized the scarcity of unitary candidates. “I am one of the people who made the most effort to have unity on the left because I believe that the greatest challenge of the left in this election is to defeat this project of backwardness, of hatred, which is Bolsonaro's project. Unfortunately, at times some local interests prevented this alliance ”. And he added: "But I am very confident that in São Paulo we will go to the second round and build a great alliance of the left." His motto – "Hope will conquer hatred" – is inspired by a well-known Lula slogan and his campaign image, that of Barack Obama in his successful Yes, We Can campaign.
Many of those who voted for the PT in its glory years have gone over to PSOL. Boulos capitalizes on this transfer of leftist votes that occurs more among the middle classes than among the poor. Some of the most famous PT supporters, such as the singer Chico Buarque or the filmmaker Wagner Moura, have given their public support to the PSOL candidate in São Paulo. If the polls are correct and it goes to the second round, it would be a feat that would give a very precious daily minutes of television to this neighbor from the periphery son of doctors.
“Boulos is captivating, it seems that he has become strong in networks. He represents the left and part of those who do not want to know anything about the PT, but if the left and the center left wanted to seek an alternative to Bolsonaro, they have to count mathematically on the voters of the PT, ”explains Carolina Botelho, from the Institute of Studies Social and Political of the University of the State of Rio de Janeiro. And remember that Lula's party maintains almost a third of the electorate. "The PT is a machine for making politics, but its leaders are badly damaged," he says.
Convictions for corruption prevent Lula from attending. In these municipalities, her bet in São Paulo is an unknown member of the apparatus at the bottom of the polls, and in Rio she is an octogenarian ex-governor.
One of the great problems of Boulos is that he is little known among the general public, although being the head of the PSOL list in the 2018 presidential elections gave him some visibility. It was his first political springboard after many years of activist battle in São Paulo as leader of the Homeless Workers Movement, which battles inequality by occupying buildings that fail to fulfill its social work.
Globo and the big channels have given up holding televised debates because of the pandemic, and because they only have 17 seconds of free television advertising. If campaigning in a city of 12 million inhabitants (not counting the metropolitan area) is a challenge, with a pandemic it is even more difficult. For this reason, his strategy combines the networks with the street, always with the mask where his number appears, 50.
The specialist Botelho warns that the key regarding the struggle on the left will be "to see how much the PT loses in the big cities, which is where (in municipal ones) there is real politics, coalitions, alliances." Although he adds that "that does not guarantee national lawsuits because they are municipal." The analyst says about the president that, although "Bolsonaro is without a party, he maintains flags, but it is not clear what those flags are or their alliances because it is very chaotic."
If Boulos were elected mayor, which is unlikely, he explains that his first measure would be to establish an income for a million residents who earn less than 500 reais a month. "Because I do not accept that in the richest city in Latin America there are people who do not have what to eat, who rummage through the garbage and do not have a roof to live on," he emphasizes.