Country Listing

Brazil Table of Contents


Democratic Labor Party

Brizola founded the social democratic-oriented Democratic Labor Party (Partido Democrático Trabalhista--PDT) in May 1980 after losing the PTB label to Ivette Vargas. Over the ensuing fifteen years, many PDT members migrated to other parties. In 1990 the PDT elected three governors (Brizola included), five senators, and forty-seven federal deputies and became the third largest party in Congress. In 1994 Brizola placed fifth for president and was defeated by Enéas Carneiro in Rio de Janeiro, thus ending his forty-seven-year political career. The PDT elected only two governors, four senators, and thirty-three federal deputies that year.

Despite his massive defeat in 1994, Brizola refused to relinquish personal control of the party and tried to impose a systematic opposition posture on the congressional delegation, although the two PDT governors favored a more flexible position vis-à-vis the Cardoso government. Both the very dynamic governor of Paraná, Jaime Lerner, and Dante de Oliveira, governor of Mato Grosso, left the PDT in 1997.

Workers' Party

The Workers' Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores--PT), the country's first independent labor party, is a unique party in Brazil. Organized externally (outside Congress) from the grassroots up and based on the new trade unionism in São Paulo in 1979, the Workers' Party initially did not want any professional politicians or students in its ranks. However, to have a voice in Congress it accepted five deputies and one senator into its ranks in early 1980. Since then the Workers' Party has grown steadily, doubling its Chamber of Deputies delegation in 1982, 1986, and 1990, while tripling the number of its state deputies at each election, except in 1994. It has also won mayorships in several cities, including São Paulo (1988) (see Elections, 1988-96, this ch.).

The Workers' Party is divided into six factions along a left-right continuum. The right consists of Radical Democracy (Democracia Radical), which has a social-democratic orientation. The center consists of Unity and Struggle (Unidade e Luta), Catholic militants, and members of the right wing of Lula da Silva's former Articulation (Articulação) faction. The left consists of Option of the Left (Opção de Esquerda), which is divided into two subgroups--Hour of Truth (Hora da Verdade), the dissident left wing of the former Articulation group, former Stalinists, and Castroites; and Socialist Democracy (Democracia Socialista), the largest Trotskyite group, which existed before the Workers' Party. The extreme left consists of Workers' Party in the Struggle (Na Luta PT), which is divided into two subgroups--Socialist Force (Força Socialista), whose members are former militants from extreme left guerrilla groups from the 1960s: the People's Electoral Movement (Movimento Eleitoral do Povo--MEP) and Popular Action (Ação Popular--AP); and The Work (O Trabalho), consisting of Trotskyites from two student movements of the 1970s--Freedom (Liberdade) and Struggle (Luta).

Until 1993 Lula's moderate Articulation group had a large absolute majority in the Workers' Party. This group conducted pragmatic coalition-building in the 1990 and 1992 elections, which resulted in the election of increasing numbers of deputies and city council members. However, in 1993 the extreme left and left elected an absolute majority (53 percent) of the national party directorate, took control, and imposed stricter criteria for coalition-building at the state level. In 1995 and 1997, the Articulation faction was again elected to the party presidency.

Data as of April 1997