What to expect from Lula and her “sovereign Brazil”. Parolari’s analysis

Integration in Latin America, social reforms, international alliances (with an eye on Washington), environmental policy. The newly re-elected president Lula presents his Brazil in the analysis of Parolari (Iai)

When he travels the world, the elected president of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva he feels that the international community lacks a certain Brazil. “The world lacks that sovereign Brazil, which speaks on an equal footing with the richest and most powerful countries, and contributes to the development of the poorest countries”, he said. said Lula in his speech of thanks last October 31, after being elected for the third time at the helm of the South American giant.

In the same speech, the socialist leader of the Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT) did not hold back, immediately outlining the battles he dreams of carrying on either in Brasília both in the world. At home, reconcile a politically torn country in two, focusing on economic growth, social reforms and environmental protection. Abroad, work for the regional integration of Latin America, strengthen the BRICS bloc, and fight for fairer international trade to developing countries. In short, the 77-year-old Lula of October 2022 does not seem very different from the 58-year-old Lula for the first time in Planalto in 2003. How was it written, the global scenario is no longer that of the early 2000s: the economy shows no signs of restarting, the climate crisis seems to be tighter and the great powers and their allies are divided over the war in Ukraine. Lula’s Brazil may have “returned”, but the world Lula fought for no longer exists. Furthermore, the National Congress is towed from the opposition coalition, and 17 of the 27 states have Bolsonarist governors. This implies that Lula’s international challenges will depend heavily on internal challenges, to which they are irremediably interconnected.

Moderate reconciliation e integration in Latin America

Lula promised to be the president of all Brazilians. The very high polarization, in a country whose electoral ballot ended 51% to 49% and in which the militants of the defeated protest calling for a coup, requires a process of political-social reconciliation. On the international stage, this approach could have several implications on how Brazil will manage relations with the rest of Latin America, and, consequently, with the United States.

The political situation of the continent smiles at Lula: for the first time, the five major economies of Latin America are led by left-wing governments. Lula has promised to advance regional integration, through bodies such as Mercosur (pro free market) and CELAC (body against US hegemony). In this scenario, Brazil, due to its economic and demographic nature, is a candidate to be the hegemonic leader of the region, such as at the time of the first Lula. But if on the one hand the ideological union of the different forms of “left” in Latin America is historically complicatedtoday it is more than ever. According to analyststhe current formation of the Congresso Nacional, will impose to Lula to negotiate with the “Centrão” and with the moderate right, proposing pragmatic policies. In addition, government action could not have an ideological caliber. For example, the positions that Brazil will take vis-à-vis the region’s left-wing dictators, historical allies of Lula, will have a huge impact on the politically unstable country. The theme was central in Bolsonaro’s election campaign, and his supporters do not want Brazil “to end up like Nicaragua and Venezuela”. Lula will try to lead the continent with a model of pragmatic social democratic politics in economics, trying to unite on reforms for development and not on ideology. It is therefore not certain that the pink tide will come back to join: presidents like López Obrador And Alberto Fernández they may not accept Lula’s approach to environmental issues and Brazilian hegemony on the continent.

Social reforms and international alliances

If the ‘how’ Lula will be able to propose reforms at home is still unpredictable, the ‘what’ has been clear since the election campaign. In Brazil, there are 30 million people living in poverty, and they are the priority of the Lula government. “If we are the third largest exporter of food in the world and the first in animal protein, we have a duty to guarantee the Brazilian breakfast, lunch and dinner every day,” said Lula. The government’s plan is to “Generate wealth without devastating the environment and widen inequalities” by bringing “Brazil back into the hearts of international investors”. All accompanied by massive welfare measures, from bonuses to education. To do this, capital and investments from abroad are required in a short time. The global economy it does not seem favor Lula and associates: if the crisis in Ukraine raises the prices of raw materials that Brazil exports, the specter of recession depresses them. It is unlikely that Lula will be able to dispose of the income that they allowed in the early 2000s to realize the Bolsa Família.

The Brazil of 2022, therefore, looks around for the support of the major global players. As already stated, Lula’s favorite allies are the BRICS, especially India and China with whom Brazil will resume commercial relations. According to Lula’s foreign policy adviser Celso Amorim, the BRICS could also play a mediating role in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. But on the other side of the line, the Biden administration immediately showed closeness to Lula, with whom shares policies for “climate, food security, inclusion and democracy”. The USA of Joe Biden they have reported Latin America at the center of their foreign policy, attempting an alliance with the left-wing governments of the region that would overturn two centuries of inter-American history. Antony Blinken and colleagues’ idea is to counter the Chinese influence in South America. China has on its side a twenty years of investments, loans and diplomatic relations with most of the countries of the continent, thanks to which it is permeating in local economies. In this two-player match for Brazil’s friendship, Lula will wait for the economic proposals of both of them. On the one hand, a Lula-Biden agreement is unlikely to change the fundamental relations between the Brazilian and Chinese economies. In fact, not even hostility of the Bolsonaro government towards Beijing has done a great deal. On the other hand, if the United States does not get involved in Brazil with investments that bring economic growth (in addition to the protection of the environment and democracy), China will have free rein to finance the reforms that Lula desperately needs.

The key factor: environmental policy

Paradoxically, in the match for relations with the Lula government, the United States could have an advantage over China: an interest in protecting the environment. “Brazil is ready to take back its leading role in the fight against the climate crisis, protecting all ecosystems, especially the Amazon forest” promised Lula. The goal is to reduce deforestation in Brazil to zero, and to do so, Lula would be putting on your feet an “OPEC of the rainforests” together with Congo and Indonesia.

On environmental issues, Brazil’s main ally will be Europe. Norway and Germany they have already moved to re-establish the billionaire funds for the protection of the Amazon, suspended for Bolsonaro’s nefarious policies. Furthermore, if the free trade treaty with Mercosur does unlocked under Lula’s leadership, Brazil would benefit economically for growth and reforms in Brasília. But in addition to the get in the way internationally, it might just be the National Congress to block the treaty. Brussels is working for include in the agreement a “tool” to prevent trade with Mercosur from encouraging soybean cultivation and cattle breeding, increasing deforestation. Precisely for this reason, Brazilian soy producers and farmers, mostly Bolsonarians and with a representation overwhelming to the Senate, they will make negotiations with the EU difficult. If the opposition based on the “agricultural calculation” became a constant, relations with the United States, based solely on the climate, would also be at risk.

Surely, an opportunity to understand what the future of Brazilian climate policy and foreign relations will be will be the UN conference on climate change. (COP27), to be held in Egypt between 6 and 18 November. Lula will participateand could use the occasion for create a special ministry for all environmental challenges. In Egypt, the rich countries will ask Brazil for a new program for the reduction of emissions, and without a plan they might do not allocate the desperately needed funds to Lula’s government.

With the president in office from January 1, it seems that Lula’s foreign policy in Brazil will struggle to go in the directions envisioned by the PT leader. The world where the BRICS were strong emerging economies and commodities dominated the markets has changed. The National Congress it will force Lula to govern by compromise and to assign key positions to those who radically do not think like him. Lula cannot afford to propose structural reforms or not to propose anything, because he would be attacked by elections in both cases. The new Brazilian foreign policy cannot therefore be a stagnant isolationism (as with Bolsonaro), because many essential challenges in Brazil will be played between the UN, Brussels, Beijing and the rest of Latin America. Lula is called to do business with China, Europe and the United States. It will not be an ideological challenge, but to the highest bidder.

What to expect from Lula and her “sovereign Brazil”. Parolari’s analysis – Formiche.net