Faria Lima’s windsock airport windsock is changing. After giving away that Lula da Silva would win in the first round in December, would win handily in February, the financial market crowd is already betting on a close dispute, with the president Jair Bolsonaro with slight favoritism. What has changed? The improvisation of the Lula campaign and, above all, the disappointment with the lack of importance of Geraldo Alckmin in the campaign.
Since leaving the PSDB to be Lula’s deputy, former governor Geraldo Alckmin has appeared publicly on two occasions alongside his new running mate. At a union event in São Paulo in March, in a shouting speech unlike any other, he called Lula “the greatest popular leader in this country”. Last week, in Brasília, an embarrassed Alckmin listened in silence alongside Lula to the centenary anthem of the Socialist International at the opening of the Congress of his new party, the PSB. Alckmin still doesn’t understand his role. Not Lula.
In March, when Lula declared in an impromptu speech that abortion should be a public health policy, the phone number for Alckmin’s office did not stop. They were Catholic bishops and cardinals wanting to understand what was happening. Alckmin, who learned of Lula’s statement along with the public, managed to get Lula to step back the next day, say that he personally was against abortion and the matter was buried by PT members. In return, the CNBB did not release a note and no Catholic authority charged the candidate. It was his debut as a fire extinguisher in the campaign. So far, however, he hasn’t been called up for anything else. He is a candidate for decorative vice, in the classic definition of former vice-president Michel Temer.
Conservative in customs and liberal in the economy, Alckmin was invited to symbolize Lula’s promise to form a government of national unity, capable of uniting former adversaries around the threat of a second Bolsonaro government. In the beginning, it worked and part of the elite lowered their arms against Lula and the PT, expecting new gestures from the center. Keep waiting.
After four months of living together, no liberal ideas in the economy or conservative in customs were incorporated into the Lula discourse. For now, Alckmin seems more committed to making the relationship work — and that includes publicly reinforcing his allegiance to Lula — than the other way around.
Part of this is due to a misjudgment by Lula, who considered that the PT would easily assimilate Alckmin’s incorporation into the ticket. Although the National Directory has approved the new ticket by 68 to 16, internal resistance has not yet been overcome. Even the moderate wing considers that the arrival of Alckmin would have discouraged the militancy, which looks to Alckmin as a possible new version of Michel Temer.
This explains why all, absolutely all, of Lula’s speeches in recent weeks were to please the left-wing voter. To close the support of the tiny PSOL, for example, the coordination of the Lula campaign included in the program the repeal of the labor reform (for semantics, Lula preferred the word “revision”), end of the spending ceiling, state control of Petrobras, increase in the minimum wage and public policies to combat LGBTphobia. It is as if the Lula campaign were paying a toll on the left to have Alckmin on the team.
Only Alckmin without power is just a trophy, a toucan veneer for a left plate. Nobody will be deceived.
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