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  • Luís Henrique Pedroso


In 2013, millions of Brazilians went to the streets to leave a message that, today, five years later, we realize it was not heard: what is out there does not represent me, we need to change something. It is not the 20 cents, we all called out on the streets[1]. These claims were not exclusively related to politics. That event had a horizontal character and a comprehensive behavior of inclusion. People from all tribes gathered to express their frustrations not only with the political class and the course of Brazilian politics, but there were also social and economic strings attached to the hundreds of manifestations throughout the country. Some proudly showed their banners saying “More Health, Less FIFA”[2], others demanding “Free bus services”, many voices against homophobia and police violence, and many more asking for better health and education services. We could see green, yellow, red, purple, black and masks. We could hear the national anthem over and over and would proudly salute the countless signs asserting that the people united did not need a political party. It follows, after all, that no one feels represented by a political party in Brazil

Fast forward one year of those demonstrations and something has changed. Brazil was divided: coxinhas in the green and yellow corner and petralhas in the red corner. We could hear people shouting that there would be no World Cup and, and alas that would have been true we would not have suffered and cried after the 7x1 defeat against Germany that left us with an eternal scar. It was in 2014 that we started seeing black blocs scaring us and could observe the first signs of potential violence and disorder ignited by disillusion with politics, frustration with politicians and the freedom found behind computer screens through social networks. Dilma Rousseff was reelected and it did not take much of 2015 for her presidency to start failing. Brazilians were not shy to be on the streets to express their disapproval with the directions taken by the Executive at a time of frequent corruption scandals being brought to light. Economic, moral, ethic crisis all at once and inflamed by social pressures and political betrayals, the consequence: impeachment. That came with pot-banging all over the country. And the sound out of these pots were loud and clear: crisis! There was a strong rejection to politics and to politicians by a majority of non-political voters who strongly did not believe in political parties. Understandably, the scene of general corruption worsened such judgment and voters did not find representation of their beliefs and aspirations in any politician and in any of the courtesan structures registered in the Brazilian Superior Electoral Court (STE) as a political party.

The current Brazilian electoral system is bankrupt and needs urgent reforms. Major reforms! Lack of representation is clear. Certainly the ones who banged their pots did not feel represented by the three parties on the main stage (PT, PSDB and MDB) and this can be seen with the inexpressive votes for Geraldo Alckmin (PSDB) and Henrique Meirelles (MDB) in the last poll, two weeks ago. That in addition to the trend of #ForaTemer (TemerOut) reaching hundreds of millions likes since 2016. The current situation of no representation no representation: there is no clear ideology and no clear program for any of the thirty-five Brazilian political parties. Yes, thirty-five! A respected social scientist in Brazil, Simon Schwartzman, said that these intermediary political bodies are organizations of convenience. They are not close to the ones they are supposed to represent, the people. They represent the interest of their leaders and their own conveniences. And perhaps here lies one of the main reasons of this crisis of representation: democracy and representation, as we know, after the French Revolution form an inconvenient alliance. This alliance is, evidently, outdated in relation to the modern world.

There is a corrosion of politics and a general rejection to partisan-institutional politics in Brazil. It is time for us to review the relation between citizenship and representative democracy where the citizen-consumer demands quick ethical responses from a State who, in turn, is not capable of doing so. There is a pressing demand for institutional, cultural and judicial reforms to answer the demands of a Brazilian society that votes in a clown (by profession) as a form of protest and this vote ends up electing to the legislative someone else due to the proportional election system currently in place in Brazil. In addition to all of that, it is important to beware of the judicialization of politics and growing violence as a consequence of antagonist speeches immersed in a crisis of representation where 30% of the population apt to vote[3] did not show up for voting or annulled their votes last 7 of October. We do not know the results of the polls next Sunday, but either way we know that the winner is the least rejected, not the most approved.

[1] These demonstrations followed a raise in bus fees by R$0.20 in several states. Authorities claimed the demonstrators were unhappy with the raise.

[2] In reference to the upcoming World Cup that would be held in Brazil in 2014.

[3] Vote is mandatory for everyone above 18 years of age and optional for those aged 16 to 18.

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