During the WSF in Porto Alegre, Brasil, P-Sol (Partido Socialismo e Liberade) held their second national meeting. Hannah Sell, Socialist Party in England and Wales and member of the international executive committee of the CWI, reports.
P-Sol national meeting: ‘for struggle, happiness and solidarity’
In his speech to the World Social Forum (WSF) Lula, President of Brazil, referred to the counter-demonstration organised by the newly founded Partido Socialismo e Liberade (Party of Socialism and Liberty – P-SoL) and others. He attempted to dismiss and patronise the demostrators, calling them ’the children of the PT’ and said that they would ’be educated with love’.
The significance of this belies Lula’s point. He was forced to refer directly to the demonstration because it could not be brushed aside. The ’children’ of Lula’s government – the young people growing up in Brazil, facing the government’s neo-liberal attacks on education – are increasingly looking for an alternative. Tens of thousands such young people have attended the WSF and, after the energetic, combative intervention of P-Sol, now see this new party as a possible vehicle to struggle for change.
The P-Sol held their second national meeting during the WSF. More than 1,800 people sat for 10 hours in the baking heat in a meeting, as the chair put it, "for struggle, happiness and solidarity". The meeting was marked by its enthusiasm and its democractic spirit. At the beginning hundreds of young people marched into the room carrying banners and flags – singing and playing drums.
P-Sol activists had every reason to be pleased with their progess to date. To register as an official party in Brazil it is necessary to collect 400,000 signatures. P-Sol have already got 430,000 and have a target of 500,000. Throughout the meeting speeches and greetings were given by trade union activists and leaders who have broken with the PT and are considering joining P-Sol.
The meeting was also notable for its internationalism. Trotskyist and left parties from around the world were invited to give greetings. Myself and Joe Higgins MP spoke on behalf of the Socialist Parties of England/Wales and Ireland.
The meeting agreed a number of resolutions. A short political resolution outlined campaigning priorities – including taking part in, and leading struggle against the attacks on education, against privatisation, for land reform, and for withdrawal of Brazilian troops from Haiti. The resolution also proposed a debate on standing Heloísa Helena, the leader of the party, and a very popular mass figure, for President in 2006. She is already receiving 3 – 5% of the vote in opinion polls. This was agreed after the discussion – during which four members of the CWI section in Brazil- Socialismo Revolutionario (SR) – contributed. The resolution was an addition to the political programme which was agreed at the first national meeting last June – and included an explicit call for socialism and revolution. P-SoL’s programme, and democractic approach, put it on a higher level than any new formation in Europe. As a party formed primarily by revoluionary and Trotskyist currents it is not a ’broad’ party in the normal sense, but it potentially has a major appeal to the radicalised masses of Brazil.
However, it is a new party and its character is not yet fully determined. It was extremely positive that the meeting also agreed to a founding national congress, with democratically elected delegates, to take place in November or December of this year. In the period running up to the conference there will be a period of debate in which a number of issues will be raised. One issue being discussed is the degree of emphasis the party puts on electoral success. While there will clearly be opportunities for P-Sol to use elections to raise its profile, a primarily electoral strategy would not allow P-Sol to reach its potential amongst the radicalised and poor masses of Brazil. In the coming debate Socialismo Revolutionario, who have a member of the P-Sol executive – Andre Ferrari – will be arguing for P-Sol to continue to develop as a radical, socialist class-struggle based party. At the same time SR will continue to drive to build P-Sol in the universities, workplaces and communities.