Dilma Rousseff President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil acknowledged the crowd during her acceptance speech at a hotel in Brasília on Sunday. Credit Eraldo Peres/Associated Press

Dilma Roussef’s election represents a setback to the right’s counteroffensive, writes Orlando Hill

The election is also a defeat for the worst right-wing ideas. It is a defeat for homophobia, misogyny and racism. It is a defeat for an elitist class system that cannot stand the sight of the working class sharing the same restaurants, boarding the same airplanes and sending their children to the same universities. 

The right-wing sector of society threw everything at Dilma. In the last 12 years, there has been a vicious campaign by the press against the Workers’ Party. This intensified in the last four years reaching its nadir in 2014.   

Dilma’s victory was obtained by uniting progressive forces: trade unions, the Landless Worker’s Movement, other left-wing parties, artists, intellectuals and religious groups. This unity will be crucial in the next four years.

Dilma won by a very small margin, 51.64% of valid votes. The press will try to show a divided country with PT controlling the poorer states of the north and northeast. However, the state that most voted for Dilma was the industrial and financial centre São Paulo, with 8.5 million in favour of her candidacy.

Furthermore, the recently elected federal congress is much more conservative than previous. There has been an increase in the number of representatives of the armed forces, fundamentalist Christians and big landowners. The number of parliamentarians engaged in social causes has fallen and representatives of trade unions have halved. That is why it is crucial now to build a strong united front of progressive forces.

Trade unionists, left-wing and other progressive parties must back the government, but at the same time put pressure for further change not just in congress, but in the streets. This second round in the campaign saw a revival of PT’s militancy, pulling the party to the left and reoccupying the streets.  Dilma referred to the militants as the soul of the campaign.

Although PSOL did not openly support a vote for Dilma, campaigning instead for no votes for Aécio Neves, militants and parliamentarians such as Jean Wyllys and Marcelo Freixo, did.

There are still many things left to do. Dilma prioritised the idea of reform in her victory speech. The first and most important reform must be political, one that weakens the economic interference in elections. 

When she mentioned political reform the crowd shouted out against the Globo media network, a virtual national monopoly demonstrating popular support for democratization of the media.

She reaffirmed her desire to build a better Brazil, “more modern, more productive, a country of solidarity and opportunities. A Brazil that looks after people with special attention to women, blacks and the youth.”  This opens space for progressive forces to advance in terms of the decriminalisation of drugs, equal rights for LGBT people, women and other minorities, potentially widens rights to social housing, land reform, demilitarisation of the police and many other issues.

Defeating neoliberalism in the polls was the first victory, but the financial sector and the elite will not forgive her for this. Building unity and strengthening the militancy is the urgent task.

Orlando Hill

Orlando was born in Brazil and was involved in the successful struggle for democracy in the late 1970s and 80s in that country. He teaches A level Economics. He is a member of the NEU, Counterfire and Stop the War.

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