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PT, the big loser in municipal elections
Latinamerica Press
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Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT) loses support from its social base, as former president Lula denounces a political “witch hunt” against him.

“The electoral defeat of Oct. 2 was a foreseen disaster ,” admitted Valter Pomar, former secretary of  international relations of  the Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT-Worker’s Party), in his blog after the municipal elections in which the PT suffered a bitter defeat after losing four of the five state capitals it had previously controlled, including the city of São Paulo.

According to preliminary results, the PT won 263 municipalities, a drastic drop from the 627 that it had won in 2012. More than 144 million voters elected the governing authorities of the 5,568 municipalities in the country.

“At the national level, the majority candidacies of the PT received close to 6.8 million votes. In 2012 we received 17.2 million votes. The polls had already shown what was to come. No one can pretend to be surprised,” Pomar wrote.

The defeat of the PT came weeks after the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff on Aug. 31, accused of  having committed fiscal responsibility crimes for having authorized supplementary credits that represented an increase in spending by the government, and the delay by the Executive branch to send funds to the public banks for social benefits and retirement payments.

According to analysts quoted by the press, the citizens “took the toll” on the PT, that has governed since 2002 and which now is immersed in one of the biggest corruption scandals in recent history.

Former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (2002-2010) acknowledged that the PT has been hit hard as a result of the Lava Jato case investigations, involving construction companies like Odebrecht, Quiroz Galvão and OAS, which overcharged excessive prices for works contracted with the state oil company Petrobras. The money was then distributed among politicians and parties, including the PT.

But the PT was not the only one that suffered a defeat. The Partido do Movimento Democrático Brasileiro (PMDB-Brazilian Democratic Movement Party) of President Michel Temer, a former ally of the PT, lost the mayoral race in the emblematic city of Rio de Janeiro. The candidate for the PMDB, Pedro Paulo, only received 16 percent of the votes.

A second round of voting will take place on Oct. 30 in cities with more than 200,000 voters in which candidates did not receive more than 50 percent of the votes, including Rio de Janeiro.

Political persecution
Women representation also experienced a slight decline in this election. This time around, 637 women were elected, compared to 656 in 2012.

For some observers, this result is in line with the low representation of women in decision-making and management bodies, calculated at 10 percent. As an example, the Senate only has 11 women legislators from a total of 81, and added to this is the fact that there are no women appointed in Temer’s cabinet.

For Pomar, the main reason for the defeat of the PT “is the same reason that made possible the political trial [against Rousseff]: we are losing the support of the working class. A smaller segment of those who used to support us are still with us. Another smaller segment voted for other left wing candidates who are not affiliated to the PT, a large segment voted for right wing and center candidates, and one segment, also large, contributed to the ranks of the spoilt vote, blank ballots or abstention.”

“What happened between 2012 and 2016 that caused these changes in the behavior of the popular vote? The answer is that in this period, the Brazilian left, particularly the PT, made mistakes that caused it to lose an important part of the population and that in turn facilitated attacks from the right,” he said.

The PT is facing the difficult challenge to win back the influence that it once had with the working class and the popular sectors.

“The quest to be leader of the ‘center-left’ guided the PT to successive rounds of programmatic moderation and to successive adaptations of the policy-making path,” Pomar stated, and it now must recover “its leadership position of the leftwing.”

Another of the aspects that the PT will have to face are the accusations of corruption that find some of its leaders involved in, including former president Lula, one of the most influential politicians in the country and whose name has been mentioned as a possible PT candidate in the 2018 elections.

On Sept. 21, federal judge Sergio Moro, in charge of the Lava Jato case in Curitiba, the capital of the southern state of Paraná, admitted the criminal complaint without evidence, filed by the Public Prosecutor against Lula for corruption and money laundering, allegedly for having received favors from the OAS construction company in exchange for winning contracts with Petrobras. Moro accepted that, while there is no proof of the accusation, “conclusive proof of criminal responsibility is not required at this preliminary stage, but only that just cause exists.”

Lula, who considers himself a “victim of judicial persecution,” has taken his case to the United Nations Human Rights Commission claiming “judicial persecution” and “abuse of power” by Moro. The objective would be to prevent his presidential candidacy in 2018. —Latinamerica Press.

Latinamerica Press / Noticias Aliadas
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