The second round of the Brazilian presidential election is taking place under the shadow of the army’s “parallel vote count”

The second round of Brazil’s presidential election, due to take place on Sunday, October 30, is taking place under the shadow of a ‘parallel vote count’ and an unprecedented ‘audit’ of the country’s electronic voting machines. led by the country’s army. The command of the armed forces has essentially aligned itself with the false allegations of electoral fraud used by fascist President Jair Bolsonaro to justify his announced refusal to concede a probable defeat.

Meeting of Military Police Chiefs with the Electoral Tribunal on the Elections in Brazil [Photo: Alejandro Zambrona/Secom/TSE]

Bolsonaro has claimed for four years that only electoral fraud in favor of his opponent in the 2018 elections, Fernando Haddad of the Workers’ Party (PT), blocked his victory in the first round. Since then, anticipating the results of the hatred generated by the massive attacks on workers’ living standards he has carried out in the name of domestic and foreign capital, Bolsonaro has relentlessly attacked Brazil’s electoral system and enlisted the military in these attacks.

In the final days before the second round, after Bolsonaro edged out former PT president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in the first round by 6 million votes, the situation is more dangerous than ever. The military has remained silent on its ‘audit’, while Bolsonaro reiterates his claims that he will not accept the results unless the military proclaims its agreement with them, despite having no constitutional role in the matter.

More serious, when asked last week by the Supreme Court and the Court of Auditors to publish its “report”, the Ministry of Defense replied that it would not make public any “partial” analysis before the complete conclusion of his ‘audit’, and that this would only happen after 5 January, that is to say after the inauguration of the next president, which is set for 1 January.

The whole unfolding of the closed-door negotiations between all those who call Bolsonaro a “fascist” and an existential threat to Brazilian democracy, first and foremost the opposition in Congress led by Lula and the PT, has so far only succeeded. only to elevate the military to the role of final arbiter of the election, regardless of the results of Sunday’s second round.

Now, while Bolsonaro says the first-round results are suspect and calls on his fascist supporters to besiege second-round voting sites, the military effectively says it won’t recognize the election results until after the presidential inauguration. next government, if ever.

Such a statement poses a disturbing threat, given both the bloody history of the Brazilian military and the intractable crisis of global capitalism, which finds particularly acute expression in Brazil. Backed by US imperialism, Brazilian generals overthrew the bourgeois-nationalist Labor Party government of João Goulart in 1964, promising “clean” elections a year later, before shutting down Congress, abolishing political parties and habeas corpus, to purge the Supreme Court and to kill, torture and send into exile thousands of opponents. This reign of terror would last 21 years and would serve as the breeding ground for even bloodier coups across the continent, claiming hundreds of thousands of victims.

The rapid acceptance by the Brazilian ruling class of the fascistic Bolsonaro, a former army captain and shameless apologist for the dictatorship’s political executions, as the main candidate and future president, made it clear that this story was not, after everything, “passed” as claimed by the PT and the corporate media. From now on, the military announce loud and clear that they arrogate to themselves the right to rule on the legitimacy of the civil authorities, which could quickly evolve towards a renewed dictatorship.

As recent developments make clear, such dangers cannot be fought by a vote for the bourgeois opposition to Bolsonaro, i.e. Lula and the PT. The main objective of the opposition, which has sworn loyalty to Brazilian capitalism in countless meetings with big business and foreign emissaries, is to chloroform public opinion in the face of the crisis that is engulfing Brazilian and international capitalism and which leads to the growth of fascist forces internationally.

The objective of the opposition is to provide a lifeline to Brazil’s moribund bourgeois democratic regime, to prevent an assault from below, thus paving the way for a redoubled assault from the right.

Under these conditions, the military’s refusal to rule out electoral fraud, providing Bolsonaro with key support for his fascistic calls to annul the results, is completely ignored by the opposition. Hours before a public rally on Monday at the historic Catholic University Theater in São Paulo, bringing together dozens of intellectuals and artists, Lula said he believed Bolsonaro would call him and concede defeat on Sunday evening.

Lula reacted similarly after learning on Wednesday evening that Bolsonaro had rushed back from campaigning in the capital, Brasilia, to meet with military leaders before announcing he would challenge the TSE for allowing radio stations to remove its legal advertising hours. Bolsonaro’s announcement was another step in his carefully crafted coup plans, but Lula dismissed it as a sign that the president is “psychologically broken”.

Such statements by the leader of the self-proclaimed Brazilian left and the “anti-fascist” opposition are politically criminal. Faced with ongoing coup plans, the PT’s sole argument is that it should be returned to power as the best way to contain and disrupt working class opposition to a renewed dictatorship with the use of its allied union apparatus and identity politics of the pseudo-left.

With the military placing a sword over the head of the next administration, one can only expect that, if elected, the PT will move further to the right, deepening the turn towards religious, militarist and political reaction. maintenance of order which was the characteristic of the second round of the elections.

This turn began with Lula’s pious declaration of his ultra-right ‘pro-life’, anti-abortion beliefs, and deepened with his calls for billionaires and businessmen to declare their open support. to the PT as the best alternative to improve Brazil’s relations with world imperialism. . What followed were promises to evangelical churches supporting Bolsonaro that they will control social policies in a new PT government, as Lula announced in an October 19 “Letter to Evangelicals.”

Today, the PT strives to present itself as the last line of defense of the police apparatus. He captured a confrontation last Sunday between fascist Bolsonaro supporter Roberto Jefferson and federal police, in which Jefferson fired 50 rounds from an assault rifle and threw three stun grenades at a team about to attack. arrest him outside his home in rural Rio. of Janeiro.

Jefferson was the first of ultra-right elements – like Bolsonaro himself – to break with the ruling PT coalition after Lula was first elected in 2002. Jefferson led then, as now, the corrupt Brazilian Labor Party (PTB). and denounced the PT government for paying monthly allowances in exchange for votes in the Brazilian Chamber, including for the approval of its hated pension reform. He was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2012 for participating in the scheme himself, released from prison 15 months later. Later, he gradually oriented the PTB towards fascist forces, becoming a Bolsonaro loyalist and sponsoring, in July 2021, the mass entry into the party of members of the traditional Brazilian fascist movement, the Integralistas.

He was arrested soon after on the orders of Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes, who now heads the electoral tribunal, as a threat to the state, in the so-called sealed fake news investigation. Placed under house arrest for health reasons, he repeatedly violated the terms of the sentence, including guarding the cache of weapons used to fend off federal agents.

Jefferson fully embodied Bolsonaro’s coup strategy, taking to social media, in violation of court orders, to complain about the anti-“fake news” measures of the Electoral Tribunal, which days earlier had ordered the removal of hundreds of pro-Bolsonaro videos and information taken from social media and banned far-right radio station Jovem Pan from reproducing them. Knowing that his provocation would result in a renewal of the warrant for his arrest, Jefferson began broadcasting the arrival of the police and then exposed a pool of blood from an officer shot in the head by fragments of a stun grenade. As a result, by the time police reinforcements arrived and were finally able to arrest him, his house was surrounded by Bolsonaro loyalists.

Bolsonaro then dispatched his justice minister, Anderson Torres, who negotiated Jefferson’s surrender by telephone from nearby Juiz de Fora. While Bolsonaro later condemned Jefferson as an “outlaw” to be punished, the protection offered to him with recourse to the Justice Department sends a clear message to the president’s fascist supporters who have been told to s take over voting sites on Sunday.

Predictably, the PT’s reaction was to show solidarity with the police and to double down on the lie that Bolsonaro is the only source of fascist violence in the country, with Lula saying “it never happened. produced in Brazilian politics”, as if the opposite PT dictatorship was born had never existed.

Workers must be warned that if Lula and the PT were to return to power on Sunday, the terms of their inauguration and future government will be dictated by the far right and the military. They will use a PT administration as cover not only to impose harsh austerity and wide-ranging attacks on democratic rights, but also to rearm for a future seizure of power.

Although its success is far from inevitable, it can only be countered by forging a new leadership in the Brazilian working class based on the struggle to end the source of poverty, dictatorship and war: international capitalism. This means building a Brazilian section of the International Committee of the Fourth International.

Barry F. Howard