Lula’s party calls Nicaraguan elections ‘great display of democracy’

nicaragua elections A 2018 Protest in Managua against political arrests ordered by President Daniel Ortega. Photo: Will Ulmos/Shutterstock
A 2018 Protest in Managua against political arrests ordered by President Daniel Ortega. Photo: Will Ulmos/Shutterstock

Brazil’s best-structured political group, the Workers’ Party is set to pose as the biggest obstacle between President Jair Bolsonaro and re-election next year. Its biggest star, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, leads all polls — and promises to be the anti-Bolsonaro figure in 2022 and beyond. Lula and his party are particularly critical of Mr. Bolsonaro’s anti-democratic stance and constant jabs at institutions.

Therefore, for the party’s foreign relations secretary Romenio Pereira to issue a statement hailing elections in Nicaragua over the weekend seems like an unnecessary shot in the foot. The contest in the Central American country was neither free nor fair, with President Daniel Ortega winning three-quarters of votes after jailing dozens of opposition figures — including seven potential challengers — before the polls were open.

“The Workers’ Party commends the Nicaraguan elections held on Sunday, November 7, in what was a great display of popular and democratic demonstration in this sister nation,” the statement reads. “The results […] confirm the support of the population for a political project which has as its main objective to build a socially just and egalitarian country.”

The message puts the Workers’ Party in the company of Bolivia and Venezuela, as well as Russia’s authoritarian President Vladimir Putin, in support of Mr. Ortega.

There is no upside for the Workers’ Party in supporting the sham Mr. Ortega staged on Sunday — especially for a party seen with distrust by a sizable portion of the electorate. 

It only gives further arguments for potential “third-way” candidates to try and equate Lula and his party to Mr. Bolsonaro, as two populists cut from the same cloth, one to the left and the other to the right.

Political scientist Claudio Couto wrote in 2018 about how the Brazilian left has double standards when dealing with left-leaning authoritarians:

“Despite all the bravado, it would be utterly incorrect to attribute to the main sectors of the Brazilian left any undemocratic action in the lines of Castrism or Chavism. The left’s relationship with these regimes is borderline fetishist.” 

“It doesn’t matter what actually happens in those countries – the only important thing is the symbology of their anti-imperialist and socialist rhetoric, and the desire to work in favor of the poor.”

“By defending these regimes (or at least by refusing to call them out) what the Brazilian left does is to cling on to these fetishes that mobilize its faith, not incorporate their modus operandi.”