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Brazil: Lula’s PT Splits

 Brazil: Lula's PT Splits

The creators of the
new Socialism and Liberty Party, a dissidence
from the government’s Workers’ Party, have until September
30, 2005, to make it official. They will need to obtain 438
thousand voters’ signatures so they can compete in the 2006
elections. The party’s founders believe that this will be easy.
by: Stênio
Ribeiro

Heloisa
Helena

"The Socialism and Liberty Party (PSoL, Partido do Socialismo e da Liberdade)
is born with the mission of providing a haven to all leftists who lack party
backing and redeeming the chief platforms of the PT before it took over the
government."

These were the words of
Senator Heloisa Helena, from the state of Alagoas, elected by the PT (Partido
dos Trabalhadores—Workers’ Party) and presently without any party affiliation,
on the second day of the meeting that gathered Brazilian delegations and foreign
observers in Brasília to decide on the creation of a new political
party.

Helena said that around
900 people took part in the meeting, June 5 and 6, to determine the creation
of the new party and decide its name." All of them devoted to discussing
social and democratic directions, in a clear demonstration of opposition to
neoliberalism."

In the meeting hall various
banners called for a break with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and
attacked the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).

The Senator said that
she and the three ex-PT Federal Deputies—Luciana Genro from the state
of Rio Grande do Sul, João Fontes from Sergipe, and João Batista
Babá from Pará—who join her in forming the front line of
the PSoL, have discovered solidarity in their travels around the country.

"We have been greeted
with great receptivity, and we feel that the democratic spirit is deeply rooted
in our nation," she stated.

Also excited about the
meeting, Luciana Genro emphasized that "Now is the moment to foster all
leftist tendencies that fight for democratic ideals, not to divide them."
The new party, in her view, is here to reestablish dialogue and occupy the
"political void," without constituting a PT-2.

In view of the "success"
of the encounter, in the opinion of Deputy João Fontes, the new party
has registered its name with a notary public and had it published in the federal
government’s official daily. The next step is to get a provisional registration
in the Electoral Court system.

Once this is done, the
organizers will have until September 30, 2005, to obtain the 438 thousand
signatures that are necessary to make the party official, so it can compete
in the 2006 elections. Fontes thinks that it will be easy to attain this number
by taking advantage of the natural mobilization in this year’s municipal elections.

After the definition of
the party’s name, a long line formed to sign a petition that was part of a
public demonstration at the end of the day in support of peaceful solutions
for the political crises in Haiti, Venezuela, and Iraq.

Lula’s Popularity

Despite the dissidence
in his own party and nagging economic problems, a poll released last month,
reveals that the percentage of people who consider Lula’s Administration "excellent"
or "good" rose from 27 percent to 34 percent, while negative evaluations
fell from 24 percent to 18 percent.

According to the Ibope
(Brazilian Public Opinion and Statistics Institute), confidence in the President
grew from 55 percent to 62 percent. The survey to assess the government’s
image shows a rebound in President Lula’s popularity, compared with the results
of the Institute’s previous poll on April 27.

The survey also revealed
that the approval rating for the way Lula is governing the country rose from
48 percent to 57 percent. In their telephone interviews, the Ibope also solicited
a comparison between the performance of Lula’s Administration and that of
his predecessor, Fernando Henrique Cardoso.

The index of those who
think the current Administration is "better" or "much better"
increased from 40 percent, in the previous survey, to 52 percent. The percentage
of those who assess the current Administration as "worse" or "much
worse" declined from 26 percent to 20 percent.

The Ibope also asked the
respondents their opinion about the functioning of bingo parlors in the country.
The poll shows the population to be divided: 47 percent thinks the government
should fight to keep the parlors closed, and 47 percent thinks the government
should allow the parlors to resume their activities.

In his comments on the
poll results, Senator Mercadante asserted that the figures, both the Ibope’s
and the ones in the Sensus Institute/CNT poll, point to an evolution in the
popularity of the President and the Administration.

Mercadante believes that,
with the positive economic numbers that are beginning to appear and the approval
of important projects that are under scrutiny in the Legislature, the President’s
rebound in popularity can be solidified.

For his part, the leader
of the PFL (Partido da Frente Liberal—Liberal Front Party) in the Senate,
José Agripino Maia, from Rio Grande do Norte state, judges that the
results of the Sensus Institute/CNT poll, released at the same day, don’t
reflect the impact of the raise in the minimum wage from R$ 240 to R$ 260,
even though the increase was announced prior to the poll.

"The effect of the
minimum wage will only occur when workers receive their first payment with
the raise. The announcement in itself has no effect whatsoever," Agripino
remarked.


Stênio Ribeiro works for Agência Brasil (AB), the official press
agency of the Brazilian government. Comments are welcome at lia@radiobras.gov.br.

Translated
from the Portuguese by David Silberstein.

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