Lulismo, Petismo, and the Future of Brazilian Politics
26 Pages Posted: 16 Aug 2013 Last revised: 22 Aug 2014
Date Written: July 16, 2014
What is the source of the Partido dos Trabalhadores’ (PT) success? And is the PT likely to thrive into the future as a key player in Brazil’s party system? In this paper we weigh in on an emerging debate about Lula’s role in the PT’s rise to power. Without Lula’s ability to win more votes than his party we might not be discussing lulismo at all, much less petismo, yet we argue that despite Lula’s fame, fortune, and extraordinary political capabilities, lulismo is a relatively weak psychological phenomenon relative to and independently of petismo. In the main, lulismo reﬂects positive retrospective evaluations of Lula’s performance in oﬃce. To the extent that it reﬂects something more, it constitutes an embryonic form of petismo. The ideas that constitute lulismo are similar to the ideas that constitute petismo in voters’ minds, and have been so since the party’s founding — a non-revolutionary quest to make Brazilian democracy more equitable and more participatory. Both lulismo and petismo are key sources of the PT’s strength, but petismo is likely to endure long after Lula has departed the political scene.
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