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An Amphibian Party? Organisational Change and Adaptation in the Brazilian Workers' Party, 1980–2012


The arrival of Luiz Inácio ‘Lula’ da Silva and the Partido dos Trabalhadores (Workers' Party, PT) at the helm of the Brazilian federal government in 2003 represented the culmination of a slow and deep-rooted process of party transformation. Attributable partly to the inevitable consequences of the party gradually inserting itself into governmental institutions, and partly to strategic decisions made by the dominant coalition that had controlled the PT since 1995, these transformations significantly changed the organisational features of the party, paving its way to the federal government. This article analyses these processes, and the subsequent changes throughout the Lula government, from an organisational perspective, linking exogenous challenges and the party's genetic model with the strategies consciously adopted by the petista leadership.

Spanish abstract

La llegada de Lula da Silva y del Partido de los Trabajadores (PT) al gobierno federal de Brasil en 2003 representó la culminación de un lento y profundamente enraizado proceso de transformación partidaria. Atribuido en parte a las consecuencias previsibles de la inserción gradual del partido en instituciones gubernamentales, y en parte a las decisiones estratégicas hechas por la coalición dominante que había controlado al PT desde 1995, estas transformaciones cambiaron significativamente los rasgos organizacionales del partido, allanando el camino hacia el gobierno federal. Este artículo analiza estos procesos, y los cambios a lo largo del gobierno de Lula, desde una perspectiva organizacional, vinculando los desafíos externos y el modelo genético del partido con las estrategias adoptadas conscientemente por el liderazgo petista.

Portuguese abstract

A chegada de Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva e do Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT) ao governo federal brasileiro em 2003 representou o ponto culminante de um longo e profundo processo de transformação partidária. Em parte como desenvolvimento inevitável de um partido que progressivamente se inseriu em instituições governamentais, em parte devido a decisões estratégicas tomadas pela coalizão dominante que controla o PT desde 1995, essas transformações alteraram significativamente as características organizacionais do partido, pavimentando seu caminho rumo ao governo federal. O artigo analisa esses processos, e as alterações subsequentes ao longo do governo Lula, a partir de uma perspectiva organizacional, articulando desafios exógenos, o modelo genético do partido, e as estratégias da direção petista.

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1 Studies of the PT's organisation include Keck, Margaret, The Workers’ Party and Democratization in Brazil (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1992); Meneguello, Rachel, PT: a formação de um partido, 1979–1982 (Rio de Janeiro: Paz e Terra, 1989); Hunter, Wendy, ‘The Normalization of an Anomaly: The Workers’ Party in Brazil’, World Politics, 59: 3 (2007), pp. 440–75; and The Transformation of the Workers’ Party in Brazil, 1989–2009 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010); and Ribeiro, Pedro Floriano, Dos sindicatos ao governo: a organização nacional do PT de 1980 a 2005 (São Carlos and São Paulo: EdUFSCar and FAPESP, 2010).

2 The total party identification (average) in Brazil was 45 per cent between 1989 and 2011 (source: Instituto Datafolha).

3 Novaes, Carlos A., ‘PT: Dilemas da Burocratização’, Novos Estudos CEBRAP, 35 (1993), pp. 217–37; Samuels, David, ‘From Socialism to Social Democracy: Party Organization and the Transformation of the Workers’ Party in Brazil’, Comparative Political Studies, 37: 9 (2004), pp. 9991024; Ribeiro, Dos sindicatos ao governo.

4 Samuels, David, ‘A evolução do petismo (2002–2008)’, Opinião Pública, 14: 2 (2008), pp. 302–18; Hunter, Wendy and Power, Timothy, ‘Rewarding Lula: Executive Power, Social Policy, and the Brazilian Elections of 2006’, Latin American Politics and Society, 49: 1 (2007), pp. 130; Rennó, Lucio and Cabello, Andrea, ‘As bases do lulismo: a volta do personalismo, realinhamento ideológico ou não alinhamento?’, Revista Brasileira de Ciências Sociais, 25: 74 (2010), pp. 3960; Terron, Sonia and Soares, Gláucio A. D., ‘As bases eleitorais de Lula e do PT: do distanciamento ao divórcio’, Opinião Pública, 16: 2 (2010), pp. 310–37; Secco, Lincoln, História do PT (São Paulo: Ateliê, 2011); Singer, André, Os sentidos do lulismo: reforma gradual e pacto conservador (São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2012).

5 Some of the exceptions are Hunter, ‘The Normalization of an Anomaly’ and The Transformation of the Workers’ Party; Ribeiro, Dos sindicatos ao governo; Oswaldo Amaral, ‘As transformações na organização interna do Partido dos Trabalhadores entre 1995 e 2009’, PhD diss., Universidade Estadual de Campinas, 2010; and Alan D. Lacerda, ‘O PT e a unidade partidária como problema’, Dados, 45: 1 (2002), pp. 39–76.

6 Panebianco, Angelo, Modelos de Partido: organización y poder en los partidos políticos (Madrid: Alianza Editorial, 1995), chap. 13.

7 I use the term ‘party in public office’ following Katz, Richard and Mair, Peter, ‘The Cartel Party Thesis: A Restatement’, Perspectives on Politics, 7: 4 (2009), pp. 753–66.

8 For the first two hypotheses, I adapted the indicators developed in Katz, Richard and Mair, Peter (eds.), Party Organizations: A Data Handbook on Party Organizations in Western Democracies, 1960–90 (London: Sage, 1992); and Katz, and Mair, , ‘The Cartel Party Thesis’. For the third hypothesis, I applied the indices from William Schonfeld, ‘La stabilité des dirigeants des partis politiques: le personnel des directions nationales du Parti Socialiste et du mouvement gaulliste’, Revue Française de Science Politique, 30: 3 (1980), pp. 477505. Basing the first two hypotheses on the cartel party model does not mean that the concept was systematically tested. See Ribeiro, Pedro Floriano, ‘El modelo de partido cartel y el sistema de partidos de Brasil’, Revista de Ciencia Política (Santiago), 33: 3 (2013), pp. 607–29. The analysis highlights the fragmentation of the party system, the dynamics of coalition presidentialism and the low barriers to entry to the system and to access to public resources as factors that render the formation of a stable and closed cartel unlikely.

9 I gathered data primarily from the party's Secretaria de Organização do Diretório Nacional (Organisational Secretariat of the National Directorate) and from its Fundação Perseu Abramo (Perseu Abramo Foundation), where I had access to countless party documents and publications. The most important directives and regulations between 1979 and 1998 are available in Trabalhadores, Partido dos, Resoluções de Encontros e Congressos, 1979–1998 (São Paulo: Fundação Perseu Abramo, 1998). The latest documents were consulted on the PT's website.

10 Richard Katz and Peter Mair, ‘The Official Story: A Framework for the Comparative Study of Party Organization and Organizational Change’, Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, San Francisco, CA, 1990.

11 In principle, no factor is more important than the others. The model is based on Panebianco, Modelos; Pierson, Paul, Politics in Time: History, Institutions and Social Analysis (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004); and the authors in Mahoney, James and Rueschemeyer, Dietrich (eds.), Comparative Historical Analysis in the Social Sciences (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003). See also Harmel, Robert, ‘Party Organizational Change: Competing Explanations?’, in Luther, Kurt R. and Rommel, Ferdinand M. (eds.), Political Parties in the New Europe: Political and Analytical Challenges (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002).

12 Levitsky, Steven, Transforming Labor-Based Parties in Latin America: Argentine Peronism in Comparative Perspective (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003).

13 See Ware, Alan, Partidos políticos y sistemas de partidos (Madrid: Istmo, 2004); Fisher, Justin and Eisenstadt, Todd, ‘Introduction: Comparative Party Finance. What is to be Done?’, Party Politics, 10: 6 (2004), pp. 619–26; and Susan Scarrow, ‘Carrots and Sticks, Chickens and Eggs: Understanding Variations In Party Finance Regulatory Regimes’, paper presented at the IPSA-ECPR Joint Conference, São Paulo, 2011.

14 Alcántara, Manuel, ¿Instituciones o máquinas ideológicas? Origen, programa y organización de los partidos políticos latinoamericanos (Barcelona: Institut de Ciènces Polítiques i Socials, 2004); Marenco, André, ‘Quando leis não produzem os resultados esperados: financiamento eleitoral em perspectiva comparada’, Dados, 53: 4 (2010), pp. 821–53.

15 Law no. 9096/1995.

16 However, individuals and businesses can donate funds directly to the local and state-level party committees, not just to the national bodies. Many companies use the party organs as intermediaries to donate funds to specific candidates and their campaigns: these donations to party committees are not capped as donations to individuals and campaigns are. Donations from trade unions and other corporate associations remain prohibited.

17 Official TSE data. The distribution of state party funding is based on the presence of the party in parliament, which benefits those with the most seats, such as the PT, Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira, Partido do Movimento Democrático Brasileiro, and Democratas (known until 2007 as the Partido da Frente Liberal (Liberal Front Party, PFL)).

18 See Ribeiro, ‘El modelo de partido cartel’.

19 The term DN refers both to the PT's bureaucratic central office and the supreme party body for the periods between the national meetings. Composed of approximately 80 leaders elected by the party members, the DN chooses the Comissão Executiva Nacional (National Executive Committee, CEN), which has approximately 20 members.

20 Ribeiro, Dos sindicatos ao governo, pp. 98–103; Partido dos Trabalhadores, Estatuto (1980), approved at the Founding Meeting of the PT in May/June 1980; Partido dos Trabalhadores, Estatuto (2007), approved by the DN in Oct. 2007; Secretaria Nacional de Finanças do PT, ‘Nova política de finanças: manual do militante – 2ª edição’, São Paulo, 1990; Raul Pont, ‘Para sair da crise …’, Boletim Nacional, 53 (1991), p. 13. See interview with Clóvis Ilgenfritz, treasurer at that time: ‘Hora da verdade’, Boletim Nacional, 16 (1986), p. 7.

21 The state audit agencies could not locate all the party accounts, and the data from 2005 and 2006 were not completely available at the time of the research. The accounting statements were quite rudimentary in the 1980s; at the beginning of the decade, they separated out only state party funding and classified all other revenue as ‘own resources’. The contributions made by public office holders consist of the transfers from the sub-national party bodies to the DN added to the contributions made directly to the central party by the federal elected representatives and appointees in the federal government.

22 The Campo Majoritário is the PT's main moderate faction, which has predominated throughout nearly all of the party's history. Its members include those leaders with significant political-electoral capital, such as Lula, José Dirceu and most of the MPs and governors already elected by the party. Dilma Rousseff, who did not join the PT until 2001, having previously been a member of the Partido Democrático Trabalhista (Democratic Labour Party, PDT), is also a member of this faction. Between 1983 and 1995, this faction was known as Articulação (literally, ‘bringing together’); it became known as the Campo Majoritário during the 10th National Meeting (1995), when it entered into an alliance with other centre groups to recover control of the party. As of 2005, amidst corruption scandals, the faction changed its name to Construindo o Novo Brasil (Building a New Brazil). See Ribeiro, Dos sindicatos ao governo, chap. 6, for details on the conflicts within the PT.

23 Source: Statement of Revenues and Expenses handed annually to the TSE.

24 Ribeiro, Dos sindicatos ao governo, pp. 110–12, 291–311.

25 In June 2005, a congressman from the governing coalition – a member of the Partido Trabalhista Brasileiro (Brazilian Labour Party, PTB) – alleged that there was a scheme to bribe MPs from several coalition parties, primarily from the Partido Liberal (Liberal Party, PL), the Partido Progressista (Progressive Party, PP), the PTB and the PT, to vote in favour of government bills. José Dirceu, then Lula's chief of staff – effectively the administration's ‘prime minister’ – was put in charge of this scheme, dubbed the mensalão (‘big monthly bribe’) by the media. Thereafter, Brazilian politics was engulfed by a flood of allegations. The PT's treasurer, Delúbio Soares, admitted that the party had operated an illegal campaign slush fund, managed with the support of an advertising man known as Marcos Valério. Dirceu left the government and lost his seat after being impeached by the Chamber of Deputies; all of the key members of the PT's national leadership were deposed, including the party president, José Genoino. The Supremo Tribunal Federal (Supreme Federal Court, STF) tried the case between August and December 2012, the longest and most controversial trial in its history. Among the 39 defendants were several federal representatives and the core of the PT's national leadership apart from President Lula. Despite several disagreements between the judges, the Supreme Court confirmed the existence of a scheme to buy the support of MPs through illegally obtained private resources and public funds misappropriated by means of fraudulent PR contracts between the Banco do Brasil, the Chamber of Deputies and Valério's advertising agencies. Former MPs from the PP, PL, PMDB and PTB were convicted of receiving bribes and money laundering. Several business executives linked to Valério were convicted of corruption and mismanagement of financial institutions that had covered up the slush fund. Valério was sentenced to 40 years in prison for various crimes. Dirceu was sentenced to nearly 11 years in jail, Soares to nine years, Genoino to seven years and João Paulo Cunha, PT congressman and president of the Chamber between 2003 and 2005, to nine years. In total, 26 defendants were convicted, including the former PT general secretary, Silvio Pereira, who made a deal with the judge. (The final terms of the sentences were still being determined when this article went to press; the sentence terms presented above correspond to the sum of the various convictions of each defendant.) In November 2013 the Supreme Court ordered the arrest of 12 of the convicted individuals, including Dirceu, Genoino, Soares and Valério. Despite protests from the leadership of the National Congress, the Supreme Court decided that Cunha, Genoino and two other MPs should lose their seats. Luiz Gushiken, communications secretary of the Lula government, PR guru Duda Mendonça (responsible for Lula's campaign in 2002) and some PT MPs were acquitted of all charges. During the investigation, it was found that Valério had already managed a similar scheme in 1998 in favour of the PSDB candidate for governor of Minas Gerais (Eduardo Azeredo); the Supreme Court has not yet conducted a trial.

26 This contradicts Hunter's view in ‘The Normalization of an Anomaly’, p. 466.

27 Replacing traditional internal communication with virtual channels is a trend in contemporary parties, according to Margetts, Helen, ‘Cyber Parties’, in Katz, Richard and Crotty, William (eds.), Handbook of Party Politics (London: Sage, 2006), pp. 528–35. On PT communications, see Ribeiro, Dos sindicatos ao governo, pp. 126–35.

28 Parties and politicians are allowed to directly purchase space in the press media and on the internet, but not radio or TV airtime.

29 According to estimates made by the Secretariat of the Federal Revenue of Brazil (Receita Federal).

30 Petr Kopecký, Maria Spirova and Gerardo Scherlis, ‘Beyond the Cartel Party? Party Patronage and the Nature of Parties in New Democracies’, paper presented at the IPSA-ECPR Joint Conference, São Paulo, 2011.

31 Meneguello, Rachel, Partidos e governos no Brasil contemporâneo (1985–1997) (São Paulo: Paz e Terra, 1998).

32 Panebianco, Modelos, pp. 436–42.

33 ‘PT propõe enxugar cargos comissionados’, Linha Aberta, 2107, São Paulo, 18 June 2005, p. 4.

34 D'Araújo, Maria Celina, Governo Lula: contornos sociais e políticos da elite do poder (Rio de Janeiro: CPDOC and FGV, 2007), p. 38. See also Praça, Sérgio, Andréa Freitas, Bruno Hoepers and Thiago Belmar, ‘Political Appointments and Coalition Management in Brazil, 2005–2010’, paper presented at the IPSA-ECPR Joint Conference, São Paulo, 2011; and Ribeiro, Dos sindicatos ao governo, pp. 291–5.

35 The main positions in the Lula government that remained with the PT were under the control of the leaders of the Campo Majoritário. The Democracia Socialista faction – linked to the Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (Landless Rural Workers Movement, MST) – occupied the Ministry of Agricultural Development for many years, while the Special Ministry for Fisheries was controlled by another faction, the Articulação de Esquerda (Left Network). The most traditional thematic groups of the PT supplied the key officials for the Department of Women's Policies and the Department for the Promotion of Policies of Racial Equality.

36 The table shows that from 2006 onwards there was a reversal in professionalisation explained by: the financial collapse of the PT in 2005, which forced a reduction in the number of leaders remunerated by the party; the 2003 appointments of thousands of activists by the federal government, thus moving them away from internal party activities; and the increase in the total number of delegates and the decrease in professional cadres from the São Paulo state delegation (the largest) after the party lost control of the state capital's Town Hall in 2004. See Ribeiro, Dos sindicatos ao governo, pp. 147–48; and Amaral, ‘As transformações’, p. 92.

37 On other Brazilian parties see Roma, Celso, ‘A institucionalização do PSDB entre 1988 e 1999’, Revista Brasileira de Ciências Sociais, 17: 49 (2002), pp. 7192; Ferreira, Denise P., PFL x PMDB: marchas e contramarchas (1982–2000) (Goiânia: Alternativa, 2002); and Ribeiro, ‘El modelo de partido cartel’. For an international comparison see Share, Donald, ‘From Policy-Seeking to Office-Seeking: The Metamorphosis of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party’, in Müller, Wolfgang and Strom, Kaare (eds.), Policy, Office or Votes? How Political Parties in Western Europe Make Hard Decisions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), pp. 89111; Lago, Monica Méndez, La estrategia organizativa del Partido Socialista Obrero Español (1975–1996) (Madrid: Siglo XXI, 2000); and Katz and Mair, ‘The Cartel Party’.

38 Katz, Richard and Mair, Peter (eds.), How Parties Organize: Change and Adaptation in Party Organizations in Western Democracies (London: Sage, 1994).

39 See Ribeiro, Dos sindicatos ao governo, p. 262; Meneguello, PT: a formação, p. 76; and Keck, The Workers’ Party. From a comparative perspective, it is possible to observe how fragile the base unit system was in the PT. In 1995, the Italian Communist Party reached more than 57,000 cells, aggregating approximately 2 million members; in 1980, the party still had nearly 13,000 cells. See Luciano Bardi and Leonardo Morlino, ‘Italy’, in Katz and Mair (eds.), Party Organizations, pp. 458–618.

40 Source: surveys with delegates conducted by Fundação Perseu Abramo. See also Partido dos Trabalhadores, Estatuto (2001); and Ribeiro, Dos sindicatos ao governo, pp. 260–6.

41 See Partido dos Trabalhadores, ‘Construção partidária’, Resoluções do 7° Encontro Nacional, São Paulo, 1990; and ‘O PT e os movimentos sociais: os instrumentos de ação’, Resoluções do 10° Encontro Nacional, Guarapari, 1995.

42 Representatives of these groups still do not have the right to vote in deliberative bodies or executive committees. I heard these criticisms in informal talks with issue-based activists during the Conference ‘O PT e os Movimentos Sociais’, organised by the National Executive Committee, in 2005.

43 The other large trade union confederation is Força Sindical, tied to the PDT. See Viana, Gilney A., A revolta dos bagrinhos (Belo Horizonte: Segrac, 1991); de Lima Soares, José, O PT e a CUT nos anos 90: encontros e desencontros de duas trajetórias (Brasília: Fortium, 2005); and Ribeiro, Dos sindicatos ao governo, pp. 166–9.

44 Roma, ‘A institucionalização do PSDB’; Ferreira, PFL x PMDB; Mainwaring, Scott, Rachel Meneguello and Timothy Power, Partidos conservadores no Brasil contemporâneo: quais são, o que defendem, quais são suas bases (São Paulo: Paz e Terra, 2000).

45 Katz, and Mair, , ‘The Cartel Party’; Klaus Detterbeck, ‘Cartel Parties in Western Europe?’, Party Politics, 11: 2 (2005), pp. 173–91.

46 Ribeiro, Dos sindicatos ao governo, pp. 153–8.

47 Biezen, Ingrid van, ‘On the Internal Balance of Party Power: Party Organizations in New Democracies’, Party Politics, 6: 4 (2000), pp. 395417.

48 I identified the leaders who occupied elected office (executive or legislative) at the time they joined the CEN and those who had previously held public appointed office. The total presence of public office holders in the PT leadership is even greater, as the leaders who had never been elected were generally political appointees or former appointees. Parliamentarisation is even higher in the governing bodies of the other main Brazilian parties (see Ribeiro, ‘El modelo de partido cartel’).

49 Panebianco, Modelos; Share, ‘From Policy-Seeking to Office-Seeking’; Ribeiro, Dos sindicatos ao governo.

50 Panebianco, Modelos, pp. 367–8; and Katz and Mair (eds.), How Parties Organize.

51 Panebianco, Modelos, pp. 316–23.

52 Lacerda, ‘O PT e a unidade’; Ribeiro, Dos sindicatos ao governo, pp. 210–16.

53 Selznick, Philip, ‘Cooptation: A Mechanism for Organizational Stability’, in Merton, Robert (ed.), Reader in Bureaucracy (Glencoe: Free Press, 1963), pp. 135–9.

54 Ribeiro, Dos sindicatos ao governo, pp. 214–16.

55 Samuels, ‘From Socialism to Social Democracy’; Hunter, ‘The Normalization of an Anomaly’; Ribeiro, Dos sindicatos ao governo; Amaral, ‘As transformações’; David Samuels and Cesar Zucco, ‘The Roots of Petismo, 1989–2010’, paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Washington, DC, 2010.

56 Schonfeld, in ‘La stabilité’, also extends his analysis to small informal groups. Details on the methodology of each index and the complete results can be found in Ribeiro, Dos sindicatos ao governo, pp. 222–33.

57 Schonfeld, ‘La stabilité’; Méndez Lago, La estrategia, p. 132. There is no reliable information about the re-election rate inside other Brazilian parties.

58 In the elite renewal index, the newcomers who had already exercised any relevant function outside the party (current and former state and federal representatives, senators, governors and mayors) are disregarded. Thus, the index measures the arrival of new elites to the leadership.

59 The state-level bodies have their own criteria for redistributing funds to local branches. See Partido dos Trabalhadores, Estatuto (2007).

60 Ware, Partidos políticos.

61 Ribeiro, Dos sindicatos ao governo, pp. 120–5.

62 Katz and Mair, ‘The Cartel Party’.

63 Partido dos Trabalhadores, Estatuto (2001); Ribeiro, Dos sindicatos ao governo, p. 270–80.

64 Scarrow, Susan and Gezgor, Burcu, ‘Declining Memberships, Changing Members? European Political Party Members in a New Era’, Party Politics, 16: 6 (2010), pp. 823–43; Hazan, Reuven and Rahat, Gideon, Democracy within Parties: Candidate Selection Methods and their Political Consequences (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010).

65 Whiteley, Paul and Seyd, Patrick, High-Intensity Participation: The Dynamics of Party Activism in Britain (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2002).

66 Carty, Kenneth, ‘Parties as Franchise Systems: The Stratarchical Organizational Imperative’, Party Politics, 10: 1 (2004), pp. 524; Hazan, Reuven and Rahat, Gideon, ‘Candidate Selection: Methods and Consequences’, in Katz, and Crotty, (eds.), Handbook, pp. 109–21.

67 Katz and Mair, ‘The Cartel Party’, p. 761.

68 Samuels, ‘From Socialism to Social Democracy’, p. 1019, shares this interpretation. For different views on the direct vote in the PT, see Flynn, Peter, ‘Brazil and Lula, 2005: Crisis, Corruption and Change in Political Perspective’, Third World Quarterly, 26: 8 (2005), pp. 1221–67; and Goldfrank, Benjamin and Wampler, Brian, ‘From Petista Way to Brazilian Way: How the PT Changes in the Road’, Revista Debates, 2: 2 (2008), pp. 245–71. The statute of 2001 extended the term of leaders from two to three years; in 2011, the term was extended to four years.

69 Hazan and Rahat, ‘Candidate Selection’, pp. 114–15.

70 Rachel Meneguello and Oswaldo Amaral, ‘Ainda novidade: uma revisão das transformações do Partido dos Trabalhadores no Brasil’, Working Paper 02–08, Brazilian Studies Programme, Oxford (2008), p. 11.

71 Whiteley and Seyd, High-Intensity Participation.

72 According to data from the TSE (Aug. 2012), only the PMDB has more members: approximately 2.1 million.

73 Lula explained to the petista command: ‘I cannot run for presidency for the fourth time under the same conditions I have done before’: see ‘Lula acusa “orquestração” em ataques’, Folha de São Paulo, 29 Oct. 2000, p. 4. Apart from the PL, the PMDB (centre), the PTB and the PP (right-wing) entered into the coalition at the commencement of the government.

74 The liberal inflexion would be summarised in the Carta ao Povo Brasileiro, presented by Lula in July 2002. Partido dos Trabalhadores, Resoluções do 12° Encontro Nacional, Recife, 2001; Comissão de Programa de Governo da Coligação Lula Presidente, ‘Programa de Governo’, São Paulo, 2002.

75 Four federal representatives were expelled in 2003. Between 2004 and 2005, some radical factions left the PT and founded the Partido Socialismo e Liberdade (Socialism and Freedom Party, PSOL).

76 The term ‘aggiornamento’ was used to refer to the modernising programme of Pope John XXIII in 1959, in the context of the Second Vatican Council.

77 In an interview with Globo TV on 17 July 2005, Lula admitted that the PT had used the caixa dois, which had been systematically used by all its competitors in Brazil for many years.

78 Panebianco, Modelos, pp. 129–30; Pappas, Takis S., ‘Patrons against Partisans: The Politics of Patronage in Mass Ideological Parties’, Party Politics, 15: 3 (2009), pp. 315–34.

79 Panebianco, Modelos, pp. 91–5, 454–7.

80 Miguel, Luis Felipe and Machado, Carlos, ‘Um equilíbrio delicado: a dinâmica das coligações do PT em eleições municipais (2000 e 2004)’, Dados, 50: 4 (2007), pp. 757–93; Krause, Silvana, Dantas, Humberto and Miguel, Luis Felipe (eds.), Coligações partidárias na nova democracia brasileira: perfis e tendências (Rio de Janeiro: Konrad Adenauer and Edunesp, 2010). Even coalitions with historical opponents are currently admitted on behalf of electoral performance. This situation was observed in the formal alliance with the former mayor Paulo Maluf (a politician identified with right-wing politics and the military regime) surrounding the PT's candidacy for the prefecture of São Paulo in 2012.

81 Panebianco, Modelos; Levitsky, Transforming Labor-Based Parties.

82 Hunter, ‘The Normalization of an Anomaly’.

83 The figure is from Poguntke, Thomas, ‘Parties in a Legalist Culture: The Case of Germany’, in Katz, and Mair, (eds.), How Parties Organize, pp. 185215.

84 This point was highlighted in my previous works: see Pedro Floriano Ribeiro, ‘Dos sindicatos ao governo: a organização nacional do PT de 1980 a 2005’, PhD diss., Federal University of São Carlos, 2008, pp. 171–2, 269–71; and Dos sindicatos ao governo, pp. 177–9, 285–8. Despite the title of her article, the essence of Hunter's conclusion is in the same direction as my argument, as the author questions the idea that the PT has become a party akin to all others (Hunter, ‘The Normalization of an Anomaly’, pp. 473–4).

85 Pierson, Politics in Time; North, Douglass, Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), pp. 8391.

* A draft of this article was presented at the workshop ‘The PT from Lula to Dilma: Explaining Change in the Brazilian Workers' Party’, organised by the Latin American Centre, University of Oxford, in January 2012. I am grateful for comments offered on that occasion by Camille Goirand, Fiona Macaulay, Maria Hermínia Tavares de Almeida, Leslie Bethell, Timothy Power, David Samuels and Rachel Meneguello. I am also grateful to the anonymous referees of the JLAS for their comments and criticism. This article summarises and updates the most important arguments and conclusions of my doctoral thesis on the PT, presented in 2008 at the Federal University of São Carlos. The thesis was awarded the Coordination for Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES) Theses Prize (Ministry of Education). This research was supported by scholarships from the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development in Brazil and CAPES for a research stage at the University of Salamanca, Spain. I am also grateful to the State of São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), which supported my updating of the data (Research Project no. 2012/05132-0).

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* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 20th March 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.