On 15 September 2005, P-SOL reached a new stage in its development. From mid 2004, P-SOL members made a huge effort to collect the signatures of party supporters. Any group wishing to register as a political party and participate in elections in Brazil has to collect at least 438 500 signatures and submit these to the authorities. In July, Federal State officials handed the signatures collected by P-SOL members into the electoral commission. All in all there were more than 600 000 signatures of which more than 450 000 were accepted as legitimate.
This represents a victory for the members and supporters of P-SOL because the party’s intervention in the next elections will be vital. It is now essential for P-SOL to stand candidates in the forthcoming presidential and state election battles. P-SOL needs to stand on a socialist programme under the banner of the working class and the landless, putting forward a political and economic alternative including breaking with the IMF and defending the non-payment of the foreign debt. Otherwise the Workers Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores – PT) and the Party of Brazilian Social Democracy (Partido da Social-Democracia Brasileira – PSDB [a right-wing neo-liberal party – trans]) which have fundamentally the same politics would try to present themselves as somehow different.
P-SOL’s first congress
Now it has been legalised, a new situation has opened up for P-SOL. The first congress of P-SOL is due to take place shortly, in line with the decision of the second National Meeting of the party held in January in Porte Alegre
Now is the moment for discussions about the party’s programme and constitution. The party branches must be built as the main forum for these discussions. Therefore we are calling on all those who support P-SOL to become involved in their local branches. This is a crucial time for the future of the new party.
P-SOL as an alternative party of struggle
The current crisis of Lula’s government provides a lesson for all workers and activists. The neo-liberal policies of the government are inextricably linked to its corrupt practises. Whilst there is a parliamentary investigation into the recent corruption scandal (see ‘Brazil: Lula government in crisis, 18 July 2005’), in reality this parliament is not going to take any meaningful stand against corruption in general.
However, an important exception to this is that Senator Heloisa Helena of P-SOL is on the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry. Helena stands out as a principled leader whose politics are based on the interests of the working class and not tied to those of the big business. As a result she is able to speak out against the PT just as much as she does against the right wing capitalist parties of the PSDB, Party of th eLiberal Front (Partido da Frente Liberal – PFL), Brazilian Labour Party (Partido Trabalhista Brasileiro - PTB), and the Progressive Party (Partido Progressista – PP).
On the ground, P-SOL is attracting a layer of youth and angry workers. There are an increasing number of demonstrations taking place across the country. Although these are fairly disparate, it is important to note that P-SOL is the driving force behind them. Demonstrations have been organised in several states where the role of P-SOL along with other left forces has been decisive.
One example has been the heroic strike of the Social security staff. P-SOL activists were among those who played a key role in the leadership of this struggle. Despite the fact that P-SOL is a new and emerging party, its role in recent struggles shows it to be an effective tool of struggle for the working class.
Rebuilding the left
An open and honest debate is necessary amongst left groups in order to draw up a balance sheet of the last few years and clarify the tasks which lie ahead. P-SOL is well placed to lead this discussion.
The unity of the working class in struggle is a principle issue. A proposal has been made that the left build a common alliance based on the main demands of the working class which confronts the government and the other capitalist parties.
In this context we welcome the setting up of the National Popular Assembly of the left, which aims to unite all activists, militants, workers and students who have not sold out and who maintain a class independence in relation to the PT government or the bosses. The P-SOL is participating in and taking this important initiative forward which in addition to providing a clear plan of action, can gather strength as a socialist and class alternative for Brazilian workers.
This is an edited version of an article which first appeared on the web page of Socialismo Revolucionario.