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Lula's win is no victory for Brazil's poor
BRAZIL'S INCUMBENT president, Luis Ignacio Lula da Silva, cruised to victory in last Sunday's run-off ballot. "Lula" polled over 60% of the vote against his opponent Geraldo Alckman of the Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB).
Two weeks earlier in the first round Lula narrowly failed to win an absolute majority, securing 48.6% compared to Alckman's 41.6%. An important factor in the first round election was the 6.85% (6.5 million votes) that went to Helo'sa Helena of PSOL (the new left-wing Party for Socialism and Liberty) as part of the Left Front coalition of parties.
Many working-class voters, disillusioned with the pro-big business agenda of the so-called Workers' Party coalition government headed by President Lula and by its failure of to tackle poverty, social injustice and widespread corruption, voted for Helo'sa Helena.
However, Lula did manage to secure an electoral base amongst the poorest people, especially in the country's north east, by using government handouts such as the "family allowance" which gives $30 a month to eight million families.
Moreover, the fresh memories of falling living standards under the neo-liberal rule of former PSDB president Cardoso and the media message of Lula's campaign that the businessman Alckman would scrap benefits to the poor and privatise public services, probably swung voters back to Lula this time.
Of course, now safely ensconced back in the presidency, Lula's election promise that "the poor will have preference in our government", will quickly be forgotten as he satisfies the demands of the Brazilian bankers, capitalists and international financiers.
However, Lula's neo-liberal 'reforms' could lead to big clashes between the government and the trade unions and social movements. The potential for an intensification of the struggles seen under the first Lula government - involving public and private sector workers, the landless workers and youth in the schools and universities - is far greater in the next four years.
This puts the issue of building new organisations, capable of taking forward these struggles, as an immediate task for a layer of workers. Moreover, the future of PSOL (which members of Socialismo Revolucionário, the Brazilian CWI section, have played an important role in building), will depend upon PSOL linking up with these struggles and putting forward a socialist and internationalist programme to answer the failings of the capitalist system.
Report from Brazil see www.socialistworld.net
In The Socialist 2 November 2006:
International socialist news and analysis
Marxist analysis: history
The Socialist Interview