October 2022 has not gone by without leaving a third term for Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva. He is a character about which the different sides -quite polarized- in Brazil, have something to express. From the legacy of the two previous presidential periods, from 2002 to 2010, to the stay in jail for more than a year; convictions issued and later overturned. And if nothing else, he is a significant contrast to Jair Bolsonaro, the current president who was seeking re-election.
This is the first trait that the new ruler will have to face: a militant polarization between two factions that have sometimes been able to go from euphoria to violent confrontation. They are the overflowing passions that emerge as a result of the “vibration of the masses” studied by social psychology. In this turbulence of feelings, as has been evident, feelings are multiplied, passions are reached, while the capacities of minimum good sense to establish dialogues between the parties are diminished.
The euphoria of the Workers’ Party has contrasted with the bitterness in the defeat of the most conservative. Some of the latter calling for coups d’état, where the protagonists would be the armed forces. In this context, it is important to keep in mind that Bolsonaro himself slipped the idea of constitutional ruptures; he himself is a former captain.
As part of that same polarization is the silence that for at least 48 long hours imposed the thunderous attitude of the current occupant of the Planalto Palace in Brasilia. The followers of the ruling party could feel emboldened to a certain extent by the non-pronouncement on the results by the current president. Then he pointed out succinctly that he would respect the Constitution.
In addition to polarization, Lula must face in the dynamics of his third term, although not consecutive, what in political science is identified as the “inertia” of government systems. He refers this in particular, although not exclusively, to the processes, mechanisms and human resources left by the previous government.
In this, many of the general attitudes of the high technical staff could be specified in that “for my friends everything, for my enemies the law”. A direct reference to this Machiavellian principle would translate into “legal” coverage of previous government actions. Something that the political leaders who withdraw from power are looking for.
From the other side, from the position of those who arrive, the perspective can be specified in the collection of bills, in the search for legalities that are directed along the paths of a legitimacy that provides cover for revenge. Both the inertia of the previous regime, as well as the reactions of those who arrive, as a second factor, can exacerbate the polarizations that constituted the first aspect indicated in this note.
Product of both components would have two additional features.
POn the one hand, governability, fluidity and the feasibility of coordinating actions between the Executive and Legislative powers. A majority in favor of Bolsonaro could easily be in Parliament as a real lock on the initiatives of a Lula committed to the population in his campaign approaches. The opposition can block initiatives and then point out that the Executive does not comply with the statements that gave it the confidence of the electorate.
On the other hand, governance. That is, the relationship between power and citizenship. At the time of compromising governability, one of the most notable repercussions would be the fragile link that would be had with many of the voters. The latter does not help either that the margin of victory was relatively small, almost 1.8% of the votes, which translated into a difference of about 2 million votes. Something normally remarkable, but that is not so dramatic in a country that, like Brazil, comprises about 214 million inhabitants.
As part of the dynamics of polarization and the “inertia” in the government’s technostructure, Lula is compromised by the expectations of the population. Many remember the years of economic boom from 2002 to 2010. A stable value of the national currency, the real, favorable levels of imports, encouraging foreign exchange earnings.
However, despite the fact that Brazil represents 31% of the total production of the Latin American and Caribbean region, this favorable period for the economy was generally due to a significant increase in the prices of raw materials. It was a time of high tide that favored the leaders of the time: Uribe in Colombia; Belt in Ecuador; Lagos and Bachelet in Chile, Chavez in Venezuela.
Now the conditions are different. We have not fully overcome the covid-19 pandemic, we must face global processes leading to scarcity and inflation, there are problems in production chains, in logistics sequences, the conflict between Ukraine and Russia cannot go unnoticed. And to add insult to injury, we must face the challenges imposed by climate change and global warming.
The new government of Brazil has before it a limited range of possibilities to once again lift large population groups out of poverty. But the conditions for sustainability of this increase in domestic aggregate demand may quickly become precarious given the circumstances of the current globalization process. These will be factors that will undoubtedly test the maneuverability of the new executive power from Brasilia. The large economy of South America has the advantage of the size of its domestic market. However, from now on, the next president insists on prioritizing mechanisms that include regional integration.