PT members refuse to critically assess the Lula and Dilma governments. The party insists on a flawed narrative that is capable of re-electing Bolsonaro next year. While less absurd than the obscurantist paranoia currently in power, the PT’s reverie is also bad for Brazil.
The PT does not recognize the mistakes that plunged the country into the worst recession in its history in 2010. Thus, the party suggests that Lula will adopt the same disastrous economic policies as always in a possible third term. It is the fuel of antipetism that drives Bolsonaro.
Moreover, by disqualifying all those who do not align with the PT, by calling them “crooks” and “radical neoliberals”, the members of the PT reduce the chances of luring them into a dispute with Bolsonaro in the second round. from 2022.
The economic disaster of the PT happened little by little. In his first government, Lula faced great challenges and achieved surprising results thanks to a virtuous programmatic coalition which, unfortunately, did not last long.
Redistribution policies like Bolsa Família are important, but it is only with a process of sustainable growth that it is possible to reverse centuries of social exclusion. Therefore, predictable economic policies are needed, capable of protecting currency stability, balancing fiscal accounts and strengthening the business environment.
In the second Lula government, it was clear that this was not the objective of the PT. Its aim was to increase public spending and intervene in the economy through public enterprises and municipalities such as the Central Bank, like the economists of the PT.
The shift in economic direction began with the rise of Dilma and Mantega, already at the end of Lula’s first term, replacing the team that had guaranteed the foundations for growth in the 2000s. accelerated with the international crisis of 2008 and were exacerbated in the Dilma Government, when the bad results began to appear.
Expensive subsidies have not increased investment. Inflation exceeded the target, but the government forced the Monetary Policy Committee (COPOM) to cut the base interest rate in 2011. Subsequently, Dilma froze administered prices in a disastrous attempt to control inflation.
It is a blatant reversal of priorities. Macroeconomic policies must keep the economy stable so that companies can invest, work and produce more. The president has done the opposite by using state-owned enterprises as an instrument to achieve macroeconomic goals. As a result, the economy entered stagflation (inflationary recession).
The virtuosity of the first Lula government was due in part to the president and other PT leaders who assembled a team capable of combining economic stability and policies of income distribution. But the merits of the party end there. By moving away from the economic consensus built in the early 2000s, the second Lula government and the first Dilma produced a real disaster. The stagflation of the decade of 2010 mainly punished the poorest, reversing the social gains of the previous decade.
Despite its huge mistakes, however, the PT refuses to be self-critical. When Lula re-introduced himself politically to the country last month, Lula embraced his shared parallel reality, characterizing Petrobras as a “well-run state”.
It’s not just corruption that has plagued Brazil’s biggest business: government interference in fuel prices and oilfield auctions have caused even greater damage. Corruption is terrible, but it’s not our worst problem. We probably wouldn’t become a developed country with just honest politicians, but we would stand a chance if we didn’t insist on bad economic policies.
Without assuming such a failure in the conduct of the economy, it remains for the PT to explain the collapse of the party on the basis of conspiracy theories. Yes, Lula’s conviction and Dilma’s dismissal were illegitimate. However, the two institutional atrocities only happened in Brazil due to the economic crisis created by these two former presidents. More than a mere vengeance by the elite, the fall of the PT was the consequence of its own mistakes.
Economics and politics are interrelated forces that are linked in a remarkably complex way. Presidents are more likely not to be re-elected when the country is in stagflation. As a result, Dilma almost lost in 2014 and Bolsonaro could fail next year.
However, when economic crises are very deep, democracy itself is capable of collapsing. This happened in 1964 and, in a more gradual but equally unfortunate way, it has been happening in Brazil since 2014.
The PT’s insistence on an erroneous view of the recent past reinforces the authoritarian Bolonarian project, counterbalancing the deleterious effects of its appalling “necropolitics”. This PT’s account excludes a broad coalition of Brazilian Democrats – including PTs there – whose electoral strength could liberate the country from the autocracy that Bolsonaro intends to impose on the country.
The economic disaster of the 2010s was mainly the work of the PT; Bolonarianism was its political consequence. In order for history not to repeat itself, it is imperative that the culprits recognize their mistakes.
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