Illustration: Salomé Gloanec

The political polarization in Brazil has become so pervasive that it seeps into almost every facet of daily life. Family lunches have become battlegrounds, taxi journeys more like white-knuckle roller coaster rides, and even the age-old act of courtship is no longer immune to ideological barriers.

“Did he really vote for that guy?”

“She wants who out of jail?!”

These are common issues for Brazilians on the dating scene, where politics is often one of the first topics on the agenda. On dating apps, it’s the same. User bios on Tinder will almost always include each person’s political leanings, more as a time-saving measure than anything else. 

Put simply, someone left-wing is unlikely to sleep with a Bolsonaro voter, and a relationship would never work out between a fan of Sergio Moro and someone with a “Free Lula” bumper sticker on their car.

It may be sad, but it’s true. The political situation in Brazil has made social life more and more compartmentalized, meaning that the arrival of a “left-wing only” dating app actually sounds quite plausible—and, to many people, useful.

PTinder, “Tinder” for leftists

This app project exists and is called “PTinder,” drawing an allusion to the major left-leaning opposition Workers’ Party, best known in Brazil by the acronym “PT.”

Created by lawyer Maria Goretti Nagime and philosopher (and former Workers’ Party state representative candidate) Elika Takimoto, PTinder does exactly what it says on the tin: it is a dating platform exclusive to people with left-wing political views.

The idea is simply to replicate Tinder’s interface, adding a few personal tweaks. People who swipe right (or maybe left?) on each other will not “match,” they will “Marx,” with corny hammer-and-sickle references as far as the eye can see.  

The spark for PTinder came from Ms. Nagime, as she was trying to find a date for a recently dumped friend of hers. Posting his picture on social media, Ms. Nagime described him as a lawyer, the principal of a technical college, with good chat and left-wing. “Amazingly, him being left-wing was what attracted women the most,” she said.

The plan is for PTinder to begin life as an Instagram page, before launching the software to be downloaded by lonely Marxists around the country. Reportedly, users will have to pass a questionnaire before gaining entry, with such questions as “Do you believe the Earth is flat?” and “Have you read any of the works of [Jair Bolsonaro’s ideological guru] Olavo de Carvalho?”—an affirmative in either one leading the user to be locked out of the app.

Once bitten, twice shy

While the reader may chuckle at the idea of the far-right trying to sign up for a left-wing only dating service, Brazilian Tinder has previous for similar types of deception. In 2016, Army major Willian Botelho infiltrated anti-government social media groups, primarily by using a “Marxist” alter ego on dating apps to seduce “left-wing girls” and become involved in the organization of political demonstrations against the Michel Temer government.

“Balta Nunes,” as Mr. Botelho presented himself, took part in a protest alongside 18 young people in São Paulo, when they were picked up by the police and arrested for “forming a criminal organization.” Mr. Botelho led the young people to a particular spot on the city’s Paulista Avenue, where they were taken in by police, “Balta” was the only one not to be arrested.

The left and its priorities

September saw the surfacing of PTinder and much celebration around a lottery jackpot win of a syndicate of Workers’ Party employees. One may wonder whether the Brazilian opposition has its priorities in order.

However, one positive sign for the left side of the aisle came from a recent televised interview with Maranhão governor Flávio Dino, who has preached for a united left front to defeat Jair Bolsonaro in the 2022 elections.

Mr. Dino, of the Communist Party of Brazil, has been talked about in positive terms by other parts of the left, including the Workers’ Party’s bench in the Senate, which sees him as “presidential.” However, whether the promise of a left-wing alliance will go any further than a match on PTinder remains to be seen.[/restricted]

SocietyOct 02, 2019

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BY Euan Marshall

Euan Marshall is a Scottish journalist living in São Paulo. He is co-author of A to Zico: An Alphabet of Brazilian Football.