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Foreign Policy Centre

Ideas for a fairer world

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Brazil : A dehydrated opposition and one with no discourse

By Thiago de Aragao.

Last week in Brazil, a new party was created: the PSD. This is the 28th party to be registered at the Brazilian Superior Electoral Court. In the Brazilian Congress alone, the opposition (DEM and PPS) lost 14 representatives and one senator to this new party.

Also last week, an article written by former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso was circulated defining a strategy for the opposition, which suffered its third consecutive loss in presidential races against the PT: change course and try to structure itself better for 2014.

The former president stated that, while the PSDB and its allies insist on disputing influence over "social movements" or "the people" (in other words with the needy and less informed masses) with the PT, they will continue to be talking only to themselves.

FHC recommended instead of doing that, the PSDB should direct its message to another segment. He claims that there is an entire range of middle classes, of new classes (younger and different types of business people) and of contemporary activity professionals in information technology, entertainment and news services spread throughout Brazil. Added to this group is the not very precisely called "class C", or the "new middle class."

Shortly afterwards, true to their role, government leaders stated that the former president didn't like the general public. Former president Lula, ironically stated: "I don't know how someone can study so much and then wants to forget about the people."

Lula and the government leaders are not wrong. They are absolutely right in trying to distort former president Cardoso's statement and attempt to use it in their favor. The speech opened up the door to criticism and only increased Lula and the government's identification with the more needy.

The opposition is wrong. It didn't understand what Fernando Henrique Cardoso said and tried to justify itself quickly, stating that it does like the poor. Those that did understand didn't know or were unable to express themselves. The former president himself was obliged to give an interview to the Valor newspaper explaining what he meant to say.

It's clear that the opposition continues to be rudderless, without a discourse and, if it doesn't act quickly, it will no longer have a public. Currently, the main party leaders spend time and energy on the internal dispute and don't pay any attention to the message. Elections can't be won without a message. As Cardoso wrote, they are going to continue speaking to a brick wall.