The Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB) is a center-born political party, founded in 1988 by a political group of which Mario Covas, former governor of the state of São Paulo, was one of its leaders.
The party was born from the combination of social democracy, Christian democracy and economic and social liberalism.
In 1989, newly created, it had reached 11.51% of the vote and since then it has had candidates for the eight presidential elections of the New Republic.
He led with the Workers’ Party (PT) in six of them, having won two – still in the first round – and lost four.
Her worst performance came in 2018, when she won 4.76% of the valid vote, remaining out of the second round.
Given its history and the current Brazilian political landscape, what is the future of the PSDB?
Voting volatility in the PSDB
Based on post-election surveys related to the Brazilian Electoral Studies Project (ESEB), through statistical analysis, we aim to understand the volatility of voting in the PSDB between 2010, 2014 and 2018.
Through the analysis, it was identified that the chance of a PSDB voter for the presidency in 2010 to repeat his choice in 2014, instead of supporting another, was increased by 53%.
However, between 2014 and 2018, this chance decreased by 96%. While everyone intuitively knows that there was a flurry of votes from the PSDB, especially for Jair Bolsonaro in 2018, it’s terrifying to watch these numbers nonetheless.
It is often said that the party identity serves as an anchor to avoid high voting volatility when the party and the party system go through challenges and difficult times.
The PSDB experienced the lack of this anchor in 2018. The party’s negative affection, which yes, set the tone for the election during this election.
On the right-wing pitch, the rejection of the PT and the rejection of the PSDB increased the chances of a voter to vote for Bolsonaro instead of voting for Geraldo Alckmin, former governor of the state of São Paulo, by 121% and 55 %, respectively.
In the left field, the rejection of the PSDB increased by 219% the chance of a voter to vote for Fernando Haddad, former Minister of Education and former mayor of the city of São Paulo by the PT, and not to vote for the PSDB candidate, also known as the toucan, a number that has identified the party since 1988.
Also in 2018, some candidates for the state government by the PSDB decided to take advantage of the Bolsonarist electoral wave to get elected.
Time passed and another segment of its staff joined the central parties, identified as Centrão, to negotiate the chairmanship of an interest committee, among other advantages, the typical behavior of a supporting and non-protagonist party as has been the PSDB tradition.
The future of the PSDB
It is up to the PSDB to decide which project it wants from now on. Look more and more like the parties that make up the Centrão – as a supportive and pragmatic party that offers to guarantee support to governments of different ideologies in exchange for a fragmentation of power – or if it wants to be the protagonist of the direction of an agenda for Brazil.
The path is not easy. There is a polarization with two leaders who today rely on the affectivity of around 30% of the electorate each.
It is a bad strategy to think that Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is on the left, that Jair Bolsonaro is on the right and that the PSDB, along with the Democrats (DEM) and other allies, can position themselves in the center. Lula has been busy trying to reach him.
The PSDB should draw a vertex and make this scale a triangle.
The party – if it wants to run in the 2022 election – must consider creating a triangular field, occupying one end, clearly against two others, of Bolsonaro and Lula.
Lula and Bolsonaro have already positioned themselves. After all, both are aware of the data presented previously: it is a building block of the PT vote to reject the PSDB – now also Bolsonaro -, and it is a building block of the Bolsonaro vote to reject the PT and the PSDB. .
A feeling of antipetism has been an integral part of the PSDB vote over time, and the party must take a stand on Bolsonarism.
This article brings two very clear reflections on the question of whether the PSDB will invest to be a protagonist with an agenda of respect for democratic institutions, individual freedoms, the environment, fiscal responsibility and the components of economic liberalism, with attention to the imperatives of public policies. And, if so, on the need to position oneself in the dispute in these terms, pulling a top of this ladder, turning it into a triangle.
There is no guarantee of electoral success. If there were, the choice would be easier. At stake, however, is whether or not to seek to maintain its leadership role in Brazil’s post-democratization policy.
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