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The PT at 35: Revisiting Scholarly Interpretations of the Brazilian Workers' Party

  • OSWALDO E. DO AMARAL and TIMOTHY J. POWER
Abstract

This review essay critically examines the evolution of scholarly literature on Brazil's Partido dos Trabalhadores since the PT's founding in 1980. We periodise the relevant literature into four phases, examining the foundation of the PT, the party's early experience in subnational government, its transformation and moderation in the late 1990s, and finally its experiences in national government since capturing the presidency in 2002. After detailing strengths and weaknesses of this research, we also examine the trajectory of the PT in light of recent comparative work on the so-called ‘left turn’ in Latin America. We conclude by offering an agenda for future research on the PT.

Esta reseña examina críticamente la evolución de la literatura académica sobre el Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT) de Brasil desde su fundación en 1980. Organizamos la literatura relevante en cuatro fases: la fundación del PT, la experiencia temprana del partido en gobiernos subnacionales, su transformación y moderación a fines de los 1990s y, finalmente, sus experiencias en el gobierno nacional tras ganar la presidencia en 2002. Después de detallar las fortalezas y debilidades de todas estas líneas de investigación, también examinamos la trayectoria del PT a la luz de trabajos comparativos recientes sobre el llamado ‘giro de la izquierda’ en Latinoamérica. Concluimos ofreciendo una agenda para futuras investigaciones sobre el PT.

Este artigo examina criticamente a evolução da literatura acadêmica sobre o Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT) do Brasil, desde sua fundação em 1980. Dividimos temporalmente a literatura relevante em quatro fases, examinando a fundação do PT, as experiências iniciais do partido em governos estaduais e municipais, sua transformação e processo de moderação no fim dos anos 1990, e, finalmente, suas experiências no governo federal a partir da eleição presidencial de 2002. Após detalhar pontos fortes e fracos deste corpo de pesquisa, examinamos também a trajetória do PT à luz de trabalhos comparativos recentes sobre a chamada ‘virada à esquerda’ na América Latina. Concluímos oferecendo uma agenda para pesquisas futuras sobre o PT.

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1 The expression PTologia was suggested by Maria Hermínia Tavares de Almeida during the workshop ‘The PT from Lula to Dilma: Understanding Changes in the Brazilian Workers' Party’, organised by the authors as part of the Brazilian Studies Programme of the University of Oxford in January 2012.

2 Margaret E. Keck, The Workers' Party and Democratization in Brazil (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1992), p. 3.

3 Rachel Meneguello, PT: a formação de um partido, 1979–1982 (São Paulo: Paz e Terra, 1992); Keck, The Workers' Party and Democratization in Brazil.

4 Meneguello, ibid.

5 Keck, ibid.

6 Keck, ibid.

7 Maurice Duverger, Political Parties: Their Organisation and Activity in the Modern State (New York: Wiley, 1954).

8 Scott Mainwaring, Rethinking Party Systems in the Third Wave of Democratisation: The Case of Brazil (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999); Samuels, David, ‘From Socialism to Social Democracy: Party Organisation and the Transformation of the Workers' Party in Brazil’, Comparative Political Studies, 37: 9 (2004), pp. 9991024; Wendy Hunter, The Transformation of the Workers' Party in Brazil, 1989–2009 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010); Pedro Ribeiro, Dos sindicatos ao governo: a organização nacional do PT de 1980 a 2005 (São Carlos: Editora UFSCar, 2010).

9 Moacir Gadotti and Otaviano Pereira, Pra que PT? Origem, projeto e consolidação do Partido dos Trabalhadores (São Paulo: Editora Cortez, 1989).

10 Isabel R. de Oliveira, Trabalho e política: as origens do Partido dos Trabalhadores (Petrópolis: Vozes, 1987).

11 Clóvis Bueno Azevedo, A estrela partida ao meio (São Paulo: Editora Entrelinhas, 1995).

12 Lacerda, Alan Daniel, ‘O PT e a unidade partidária como problema’, Dados, 45: 1 (2002), pp. 3976; Roma, Celso, ‘Organizaciones de partidos en Brasil: el PT y el PSDB bajo perspectiva comparada’, América Latina Hoy, 44 (2006), pp. 153–84; Paulo Roberto Figueira Leal, O PT e o dilema da representação política (Rio de Janeiro: Editora FGV, 2005).

13 Keck, The Workers' Party and Democratization in Brazil ; Meneguello, PT: a formação de um partido, 1979–1982.

14 Keck, The Workers' Party and Democratization in Brazil, pp. 98–103.

15 Pere Petit, A esperança equilibrista: a trajetória do PT no Pará (São Paulo: Boitempo, 1996).

16 Maria do Socorro Sousa Braga, ‘Partido dos Trabalhadores: condições de origem e variações estaduais’, in Vítor Amorim de Angelo and Marco Antônio Villa (eds.), O Partido dos Trabalhadores e a política brasileira (1980–2006): uma história revisitada (São Carlos: Editora UFSCar, 2009).

17 Júlio Simões, O dilema da participação popular: a etnografia de um caso (São Paulo: Marco Zero, 1992); Cláudio Couto, O desafio de ser governo: o PT na prefeitura de São Paulo (1989–1992) (Rio de Janeiro: Paz e Terra, 1995).

18 Brazilian municipalities with more than 200,000 voters now use runoff elections, but this rule did not apply in 1988. If she had faced a second round ballot, Erundina would almost certainly have been defeated by former mayor and governor Paulo Maluf, a loyal ally of the military regime who returned to the mayoralty in 1992.

19 Couto, O desafio de ser governo.

20 Tarso Genro and Ubiratan Souza, Orçamento participativo: a experiência de Porto Alegre (São Paulo: Fundação Perseu Abramo, 2001); Luiz Barreto, Inês Magalhães and Vicente Trevas (eds.), Governo e cidadania: balanço e reflexões sobre o modo petista de governar (São Paulo: Fundação Perseu Abramo, 1999); Jorge Bittar (ed.), Governos estaduais: desafios e avanços (São Paulo: Fundação Perseu Abramo, 2003).

21 Leonardo Avritzer and Zander Navarro (eds.), A inovação democrática no Brasil: o orçamento participativo (São Paulo: Editora Cortez, 2003); Gianpaolo Baiocchi, Radicals in Power: The Workers' Party (PT) and Experiments in Urban Democracy in Brazil (London: Zed Books, 2003).

22 Brian Wampler, Participatory Budgeting in Brazil: Contestation, Cooperation, and Accountability (College Park, PA: Penn State University Press, 2007).

23 Novaes, Carlos Alberto Marques, ‘PT: dilemas da burocratização’, Novos Estudos Cebrap, 35 (1993), pp. 217–37; Leôncio Martins Rodrigues, ‘PT: A New Actor in Brazilian Politics’, in Fernando J. Devoto and Torcuato S. Di Tella (eds.), Political Culture, Social Movements and Democratic Transitions in South America in the 20th Century (Milan: Feltrinelli, 1997); André Singer, O PT (São Paulo: Publifolha, 2001).

24 Ribeiro, Dos sindicatos ao governo.

25 Angelo Panebianco, Modelos de partido: organização e poder nos partidos políticos (São Paulo: Martins Fontes, 2005).

26 Katz, Richard and Mair, Peter, ‘Changing Models of Party Organisation and Party Democracy: The Emergence of the Cartel Party’, Party Politics, 1: 1 (1995), pp. 528; The Cartel Party Thesis: A Restatement’, Perspectives on Politics, 7: 4 (2009), pp. 753–66.

27 Amaral, Oswaldo E. do, ‘Ainda conectado: o PT e seus vínculos com a sociedade’, Opinião Pública, 17: 1 (2011), pp. 144; As transformações nas formas de militância no interior do PT: maior inclusão e menor intensidade’, Revista Brasileira de Ciências Sociais, 28: 82 (2013), pp. 6786.

28 Ribeiro, Dos sindicatos ao governo; Amaral, ‘Ainda conectado’; Amaral, ‘As transformações nas formas de militância’.

29 Antonio Ozaí Silva, ‘Nem reforma nem revolução: a estrela é branca’, in Vítor Amorim de Angelo and Marco Antônio Villa (eds.), O Partido dos Trabalhadores e a política brasileira (1980–2006): uma história revisitada (São Carlos: EdUFSCar, 2009); Eurelino Coelho, ‘Uma esquerda para o capital: crise do Marxismo e mudanças nos projetos políticos dos grupos dirigentes do PT (1979–1998)’, unpubl. PhD diss., Universidade Federal Fluminense, Brazil, 2005.

30 Novaes, ‘PT: dilemas da burocratização’.

31 Samuels, ‘From Socialism to Social Democracy: Party Organization and the Transformation of the Workers’ Party in Brazil’; Hunter, Wendy, ‘The Normalization of an Anomaly: The Workers' Party in Brazil’, World Politics, 59 (2007), pp. 440–75; Hunter, The Transformation of the Workers' Party in Brazil, 1989–2009.

32 Kathryn Hochstetler, ‘Organized Civil Society in Lula's Brazil’, in Peter Kingstone and Timothy J. Power (eds.), Democratic Brazil Revisited (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008).

33 Baiocchi, Gianpaolo and Checa, Sofia, ‘The Brazilian Workers’ Party: From Local Practices to National Power’, Journal of Labor and Society, 10: 4 (2007), pp. 411–30.

34 Pogrebinschi, Thamy and Santos, Fabiano, ‘Participação como representação: o impacto das Conferências Nacionais de Políticas Públicas no Congresso Nacional’, Dados, 54: 3 (2011), pp. 259305.

35 Avritzer, Leonardo, ‘Living under a Democracy: Participation and its Impact on the Living Conditions of the Poor’, Latin American Research Review, 45 (special issue) (2010), pp. 166–85.

36 Wendy Hunter, ‘Brazil: The PT in Power’, in Steven Levitsky and Kenneth Roberts (eds.), The Resurgence of the Latin American Left (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011); David Samuels, ‘Brazilian Democracy in the PT Era’, in Jorge Domínguez and Michael Shifter (eds.), Constructing Democratic Governance in Latin America (4th edition) (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013).

37 Pogrebinschi and Santos, ‘Participação como representação: o impacto das Conferências Nacionais de Políticas Públicas no Congresso Nacional’; Avritzer, ‘Living under a Democracy: Participation and its Impact on the Living Conditions of the Poor’.

38 Samuels, ‘Brazilian Democracy in the PT Era’.

39 Flynn, Peter, ‘Brazil and Lula, 2005: Crisis, Corruption and Change in Political Perspective’, Third World Quarterly, 26: 8 (2005), pp. 1221–67; Palermo, Vicente, ‘Brasil: el gobierno de Lula y el PT’, Nueva Sociedad, 192 (2005), pp. 411; Octavio Amorim Neto, ‘Algumas consequências políticas de Lula: novos padrões de formação e recrutamento ministerial, controle de agenda e produção legislativa’, in Jairo Nicolau and Timothy J. Power (eds.), Instituições representativas no Brasil: balanço e reforma (Belo Horizonte: Editora UFMG, 2007); 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; Carlos Pereira, Timothy J. Power and Eric D. Raile, ‘Presidentialism, Coalitions, and Accountability’, in Timothy J. Power and Matthew M. Taylor (eds.), Corruption and Democracy in Brazil: The Struggle for Accountability (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2011), pp. 31–55.

40 Veiga, Luciana, ‘Os partidos brasileiros na perspectiva dos eleitores: mudanças e continuidades na identificação partidária e na avaliação das principais legendas após 2002’, Opinião Pública, 13: 2 (2007), pp. 340–65; O partidarismo no Brasil (2002/2010)’, Opinião Pública, 17: 2 (2011), pp. 400–25; Samuels, David, ‘A evolução do petismo (2002–2008)’, Opinião Pública, 14: 2 (2008), pp. 302–18; Venturi, Gustavo, ‘PT 30 anos: crescimento e mudanças na preferência partidária’, Perseu, 5 (2010), pp. 197214; Singer, André, ‘A segunda alma do Partido dos Trabalhadores’, Novos Estudos Cebrap, 88 (2010), pp. 89111.

41 Anderson, Perry, ‘Lula's Brazil’, London Review of Books, 33: 7 (2011), pp. 312; Lincoln Secco, História do PT, 1978–2010 (Cotia: Editora Ateliê, 2011); Hernán Gómez Bruera, Lula, the Workers' Party and the Governability Dilemma in Brazil (New York: Routledge, 2013); André Singer, Os sentidos do lulismo (São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2012).

42 Singer, Os sentidos do lulismo.

43 Zucco, Cesar Jr., ‘The President's “New” Constituency: Lula and the Pragmatic Vote in Brazil's 2006 Presidential Elections’, Journal of Latin American Studies, 40 (2008), pp. 2949; When Payouts Pay Off: Conditional Cash Transfers and Voting Behavior in Brazil, 2002–2010’, American Journal of Political Science, 57: 4 (2013), pp. 810–22; Rennó, Lúcio 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; Rennó, Lúcio and Peixoto, Vítor, ‘Mobilidade ascendente e voto: as eleições presidenciais de 2010 no Brasil’, Opinião Pública, 17: 2 (2011), pp. 304–32.

44 Zucco, Cesar Jr. and Power, Timothy J., ‘Bolsa Família and the Shifts in Lula's Electoral Base, 2002–2006: A Reply to Bohn’, Latin American Research Review, 48: 2 (2013), pp. 324.

45 The PSB's original challenger was Eduardo Campos, a former Pernambuco governor who had served in Lula's first cabinet. After his death in a plane crash in August 2014, he was replaced as the PSB nominee by Marina Silva, a PT founder who was Lula's environment minister for five years and who quit the PT only in 2009. In the 2014 presidential runoff, the PSB endorsed Aécio Neves (PSDB) against Dilma Rousseff. The PSB thus moved from being a PT coalition partner to a strong oppositional stance in less than two years.

46 Samuels, David and Zucco, Cesar, ‘Crafting Mass Partisanship at the Grass Roots’, British Journal of Political Science, first view article (2014), pp. 121; Dyck, Brandon Van, ‘Why Party Organisation Still Matters: The Workers' Party in Northeastern Brazil’, Latin American Politics and Society, 56: 2 (2014), pp. 126.

47 Meneguello, PT: a formação de um partido, 1979–1982; Keck, The Workers' Party and Democratization in Brazil.

48 Antonio Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks (New York: International Publishers, 1971), p. 149.

49 Robert Michels, Political Parties: A Sociological Study of the Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy (New York: Simon and Schuster, [1911] 1968); Duverger, Political Parties: Their Organisation and Activity in the Modern State; Otto Kirchheimer, ‘The Transformation of the Western European Party Systems’, in Joseph LaPalombara and Myron Weiner (eds.), Political Parties and Political Development (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1966); Panebianco, ‘Modelos de partido: organização e poder nos partidos políticos’; Katz and Mair, ‘Changing Models of Party Organisation and Party Democracy: The Emergence of the Cartel Party’; ‘The Cartel Party Thesis: A Restatement’.

50 Donald Share and Scott Mainwaring, ‘Transitions Through Transaction: Democratisation in Brazil and Spain’, in Wayne Selcher (ed.), Political Liberalisation in Brazil (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1986.), pp. 175–215; Thomas Skidmore, ‘Brazil's Slow Road to Redemocratisation’, in Alfred Stepan (ed.), Democratising Brazil: Problems of Transition and Consolidation (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989).

51 Hunter, ‘The Normalisation of an Anomaly: The Workers’ Party in Brazil’; The Transformation of the Workers' Party in Brazil, 1989–2009. Samuels, ‘A evolução do petismo (2002–2008)’.

52 Ribeiro, Dos sindicatos ao governo: a organização nacional do PT de 1980 a 2005; Amaral, ‘Ainda conectado’.

53 Samuels, ‘Brazilian Democracy in the PT Era’; Samuels, David and Lucas, Kevin, ‘The Ideological “Coherence” of the Brazilian Party System, 1990–2009’, Journal of Politics in Latin America, 2: 3 (2010), pp. 3969; Scott Mainwaring, Rethinking Party Systems in the Third Wave of Democratization: The Case of Brazil (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999).

54 Limongi, Fernando and Cortez, Rafael, ‘As eleições de 2010 e o quadro partidário’, Novos Estudos CEBRAP, 88 (2010), pp. 2137; Rachel Meneguello, ‘Las elecciones de 2010 y los rumbos del sistema de partidos brasileño: política nacional, fragmentación y lógica de coaliciones’, in Manuel Alcántara Sáez and María Laura Tagina (eds.), América Latina: política y elecciones del bicentenario (2009–2010) (Madrid: Centro de Estudios Políticos e Constitucionales, 2011).

55 Maria do Socorro Sousa Braga, Pedro Ribeiro and Oswaldo E. do Amaral, ‘El sistema de partidos en Brasil: estabilidad e institucionalización (1982–2014)’, in Flavia Freidenberg (ed.), Los sistemas de partidos en América Latina (1978–2014) (México DF: INE, forthcoming).

56 A good overview of the literature on the ‘left turn’ in Latin America is found in Steven Levitsky and Kenneth Roberts (eds.), The Resurgence of the Latin American Left (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011).

57 Jorge Lanzaro, ‘La social democracia criolla’, Nueva Sociedad, 217 (2008), pp. 40–58; ‘Uruguay: A Social Democratic Government in Latin America’, in Steven Levitsky and Kenneth Roberts (eds.), The Resurgence of the Latin American Left (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011).

58 Levitsky and Roberts (eds.), The Resurgence of the Latin American Left.

59 Hunter, The Transformation of the Workers' Party in Brazil.

60 Power, Timothy J. and Zucco, Cesar Jr., ‘Elite Preferences in a Consolidating Democracy: The Brazilian Legislative Surveys, 1990–2009’, Latin American Politics and Society, 54: 4 (Winter 2012), pp. 127.

61 do Amaral, Oswaldo E., ‘Adaptação e resistência: o PT no Governo Lula entre 2003 e 2008’, Revista Brasileira de Ciência Política, 4 (2010), pp. 105–34.

62 The PC do B is not to be confused with the old Moscow-line Brazilian Communist Party (PCB), from which it defected in 1962 during the Sino-Soviet split. The PC do B evolved from Maoism in the 1960s to an Albanian line (Hoxhaism) in the 1970s, and after the end of the Cold War it settled on a long-term strategic alliance with the PT. It is historically very influential within the National Union of Students (UNE).

* This paper originated in a workshop entitled ‘The PT from Lula to Dilma: Understanding Changes in the Brazilian Workers' Party’ held by the Brazilian Studies Programme, University of Oxford, in January 2012. The authors are grateful to the workshop participants for their comments. The authors would also like to thank the JLAS reviewers for their valuable comments and suggestions.

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