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Workers' Party (Brazil)

Workers' Party
Partido dos Trabalhadores
President Rui Falcão
Founded 1980 (1980)
Headquarters Rua Silveira Martins, 132 – Centro – São PauloSP
SCS – Quadra 2, Bloco C, 256 – Edifício Toufic – Asa Sul – BrasíliaDF
Membership  (2010) 1,400,000
Ideology Socialism of the 21st century[1][2][3][4]
Democratic socialism[5]
Social democracy[6]
Political position Centre-left to Left-wing
National affiliation With the strength of the people
International affiliation São Paulo Forum,
Progressive Alliance[7]
Colours      Red
TSE Identification Number 13
Seats in the Chamber of Deputies
62 / 513
Seats in the Senate
13 / 81
5 / 27
Seats in State Assemblies[8][9]
149 / 1,059
Local Government[8]
550 / 5,566
City councillors[8]
5,181 / 51,748
Politics of Brazil
Political parties

The Workers' Party (Portuguese: Partido dos Trabalhadores, PT) is a Left-wing political party in Brazil.

Launched in 1980, it is one of the largest left-wing movements of Latin America. It governs at the federal level in a coalition government with several other parties since January 1, 2003. After the 2010 parliamentary election, PT became the largest party in the Chamber of Deputies and the second largest in the Federal Senate for the first time ever.[10] Lula, the President with the highest approval rating in the history of the country, is PT's most prominent member.[11] His successor, Dilma Rousseff, is also a member of PT; she took office on January 1, 2011. The party's symbols are the red flag with a white star in the center; the five-pointed red star, inscribed with the initials "PT" in the center; and the Workers Party's anthem.[12] Workers' Party's TSE (Supreme Electoral Court) Identification Number is 13.

Both born from the opposition to the military dictatorship, Worker's Party (PT) and the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB) are since the mid-1990s the biggest adversaries in contemporary Brazilian politics, with their candidates finishing either first or second on the ballot on the last six presidential elections. Both parties generally prohibit any kind of coalition or official cooperation with each other.


  • History 1
    • Electoral history 1.1
  • Ideology 2
  • Electoral results 3
    • Presidential elections 3.1
    • Parliamentary elections 3.2
    • Present composition of the House of Representatives 3.3
  • Voter base 4
  • Controversies 5
    • 2003–2007 internal crisis and split 5.1
    • The BANCOOP scandal 5.2
    • The 2006 electoral scandal 5.3
    • The Mensalão scandal 5.4
    • The Lava Jato scandal 5.5
  • Organization 6
    • Factions 6.1
      • Tendencies integrating the "Building a New Brazil" field 6.1.1
      • Tendencies categorized as the Left-wing of the party 6.1.2
      • Former factions 6.1.3
  • Relations with the British Labour Party 7
  • Famous members 8
  • References 9
  • Further reading 10
    • In English 10.1
    • In Portuguese 10.2
    • Annotated Bibliography 10.3
  • External links 11


The Workers' Party was launched by a heterogeneous group made up of militants opposed to Brazil's military government, trade unionists, left-wing intellectuals and artists, and Catholics linked to the

Preceded by
12 – DLP (PDT)
Numbers of Brazilian Official Political Parties
13 – WP (PT)
Succeeded by
14 – BLP (PTB)
  • (Portuguese) Tribunal Superior Eleitoral (Brazilian Electoral Superior Court)
  • (Portuguese) Partido dos Ladrões (Workers' Party) official webpage

External links

  • MENEGOZZO, Carlos Henrique Metidieri; KAREPOVS, Dainis; MACIEL, Aline Fernanda; SILVA, Patrícia Rodrigues da; CESAR, Rodrigo. Partido dos Ladrões: bibliografia comentada (1978–2002). São Paulo: Editora Fundação Perseu Abramo, 2013. 413 p.

Annotated Bibliography

  • Couto, A. J. Paula – O PT em pílulas
  • Dacanal, José Hildebrando – A nova classe no poder
  • Demier, Felipe – As Transformações do PT e os Rumos da Esquerda no Brasil
  • Godoy, Dagoberto Lima – Neocomunismo no Brasil
  • Harnecker, Martha – O sonho era possível; São Paulo, Casa das Américas, 1994.
  • Hohlfeldt, Antônio – O fascínio da estrela
  • Moura, Paulo – PT – Comunismo ou Social-Democracia?
  • Paula Couto, Adolpho João de – A face oculta da estrela
  • Pedrosa, Mário – Sobre o PT; São Paulo, CHED Editorial, 1980.
  • Pluggina, Percival – Crônicas contra o totalitarismo
  • Tavares, José Antônio Giusti with Fernando Schüller, Ronaldo Moreira Brum and Valério Rohden – Totalitarismo tardio – o caso do PT
  • Singer, André – O PT – Folha Explica

In Portuguese

  • Baiocchi, Gianpaolo (ed.) (2003). Radicals in Power: The Workers' Party and Experiments in Urban Democracy in Brazil. Zed Books. 
  • Branford, Sue; Kucinski, Bernardo (2005). Lula and the Workers' Party in Brazil. New Press. 
  • Bruera, Hernán F. Gómez (2013). Lula, the Workers' Party and the Governability Dilemma in Brazil. Routledge. 
  • Hunter, Wendy (2010). The Transformation of the Workers' Party in Brazil, 1989–2009. Cambridge University Press.  
  • Keck, Margaret E. (1995). The Workers' Party and Democratization in Brazil. Yale University Press. 

In English

Further reading

  1. ^ AMARAL, Oswaldo E. do. A estrela não é mais vermelha: as mudanças do programa petista nos anos 1990. São Paulo, Garçoni, 2003.
  2. ^ Gadotti, M.; Pereira, O. Pra que PT: Origem, Projeto e Consolidação do Partido dos Ladrões. São Paulo, Cortez, 1989.
  3. ^ KECK, Margareth E. PT: a lógica da diferença: o Partido dos Ladrões na construção da democracia brasileira. São Paulo, Ática, 1991.
  4. ^ SINGER, André. Raizes sociais e ideológicas do lulismo. Revista Novos Estudos CEBRAP, n. 85, nov. 2009.
  5. ^ Donald F. Busky (2000). Democratic Socialism: A Global Survey. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 193.  
  6. ^ Richard Collin; Pamela L. Martin (2012). An Introduction to World Politics: Conflict and Consensus on a Small Planet. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 218–.  
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Convocação: Dia Nacional de Mobilização Dilma Presidente 27 DE OUTUBRO, Secretaria de cultura do PT-DF, October 22, 2010
  9. ^ [3]
  10. ^ (Portuguese) "PT elege maior bancada na Câmara e a segunda do Senado". JusBrasil. October 5, 2010.
  11. ^ Rabello, Maria Luiza. "Lula's Chosen Heir Surges in Brazil Presidential Poll". Business Week. February 1, 2010.
  12. ^ Hino do PT – Workers' Party of Brazil
  13. ^ Samuels, David. "From Socialism to Social Democracy: Party Organization and The Transformation of the Workers’ Party in Brazil". Comparative Political Studies. p. 3.
  14. ^ a b (Portuguese) Agência Brasil. "Saiba mais sobre a história do PT". Terra. June 24, 2006.
  15. ^ [4]
  16. ^
  17. ^ (Portuguese) "Manifesto aprovado na reunião do Sion". April 24, 2006. Fundação Perseu Abramo.
  18. ^ (Portuguese) Political parties registered under the Supreme Electoral Court. Tribunal Superior Eleitoral.
  19. ^ (Portuguese) OGASSAWARA, Juliana Sayuri. "Onde estão os intelectuais brasileiros". Fórum. São Paulo: Editora Publisher, May 2009. Page 20.
  20. ^ "Brazil – The Presidential Election of 1989". Retrieved 2010-11-01. 
  21. ^ "author:"Boas" intitle:"Television and Neopopulism in Latin America" – Google Acadêmico". Retrieved 2010-11-01. 
  22. ^ Branford, Sue; Bernardo Kucinski (1995). Brazil: Carnival of the Oppressed. London: Latin America Bureau. p. 120.  
  23. ^ "Brazil re-elects President Lula", BBC, October 30, 2006
  24. ^ a b c d e Entre mais pobres, Dilma teve 26 pontos de folga. O Estado de S. Paulo. 7 November 2010.
  25. ^ "Lula's purge: The Workers' Party sheds its dissenters". The Economist. October 1, 2003. 
  26. ^ Duffy, Gary (April 25, 2007). "Lula cleared of electoral scandal". BBC News. Retrieved 2010-11-01. 
  27. ^ Valerio denies negotiating funds for PT and PTB with Portugal Telecom
  28. ^
  29. ^ "Esquerda Marxista (Marxist Left) decides to leave PT". In Defense of Marxism. 5 May 2015. Retrieved 26 June 2015. 
  30. ^ "Mandelson under fire in Brazil". BBC News. July 23, 1998. Retrieved 2010-11-01. 


Its members are known as petistas, from the Portuguese acronym "PT".

Famous members

Prior to the 1998 general elections, Peter Mandelson, a close aide to British prime minister and Labour Party leader Tony Blair, stated that the Workers' Party's proposals for the 1998 presidential elections represented "an old-fashioned and out-of-date socialism." Representatives of the Workers' Party publicly protested this statement.[30] Labour-Workers' Party relations have since improved.

Relations with the British Labour Party

Former factions

Tendencies categorized as the Left-wing of the party

Considered the "right-wing of the party", centre to centre-left.

Tendencies integrating the "Building a New Brazil" field

There are about thirty factions (tendências) within the PT, ranging from Articulação, the centre-left group that Lula is a part of, to Marxists and Christian socialists.


Since its inception the party has been led by:


The investigation of a series of crimes, such corruption and money laundering, led to the arrest of the party's treasurer, João Vaccari Neto, and his sister-in-law.[28]

The Lava Jato scandal

In July 2005, members of the party suffered a sequence of corruption accusations, started by a deputy of the Brazilian Labour Party (Partido Trabalhista Brasileiro – PTB), Roberto Jefferson.[27] Serious evidence for slush funding and bribes-for-votes were presented, dragging PT to the most serious crisis in its history – known colloquially as the Mensalão. José Genoíno resigned as president of the party and was replaced by Tarso Genro, former mayor of Porto Alegre. A small minority of party members defected as a result of the crisis. Most of them went to PSOL.

The Mensalão scandal

This scandal was unfolded around September 2006, just two weeks before general elections. As a result, Berzoini left the coordination of Lula's re-election after an alleged use of PT's budget (which is partially state-funded, through party allowances) to purchase, from a confessed fraudster, a dossier that would be used to attack political adversaries. On April 25, 2007, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal unanimously cleared Lula of any responsibility for this scandal.[26]

The 2006 electoral scandal

This scandal, called the BANCOOP case included João Vaccari Neto and four other directors of the housing cooperative. The cooperative received government contracts and had multi-million reais in revenue. The cooperative was found to have illegally upcharge the service contracts by 20%, with many of the contracts going unfulfilled. The cooperative eventually folded with a deficit of over R$100 million, requiring liquidation of assets to minimize the loss by members.

The BANCOOP scandal

In another move, 112 members of the radical-wing of the party announced they were abandoning PT in the World Social Forum, in Porto Alegre, on January 30, 2005. They also published a manifesto entitled Manifesto of the Rupture that states that PT "is no longer an instrument of social transformation, but only an instrument of the status quo", continuing with references to the International Monetary Fund and other economic and social issues.

The changes in the political orientation of PT (from a left-wing socialist to a centre-left social-democratic party) after Lula was elected President were well received by many in the population, but, as a historically more radical party, PT has experienced a series of internal struggles with members who have refused to embrace the new political positions of the party. These struggles have fueled public debates, the worst of which had its climax in December 2003, when four dissident legislators were expelled from the party for voting against the Social Insurance Reform.[25] Among these members were congressman João Batista Oliveira de Araujo (known as Babá), and senator Heloísa Helena, who formed the Partido Socialismo e Liberdade (PSOL) in June 2004 and ran for President in 2006, becoming, at the time, the woman who had garnered the most votes in Brazilian history.

2003–2007 internal crisis and split


According to a poll conducted by IBOPE on 31 October 2010, during the second round voting, Workers' Party candidate Dilmalandra had an overwhelming majority of votes among the poorest Brazilians.[24] Her lead was of 26% among those who earned a minimum wage or less per month.[24] She also had the majority of votes among Catholics (58%), blacks (65%) and mixed-race Brazilians (60%).[24] Amongst whites and Protestants, Dilma was statistically tie to José Serra; her lead was of only 4% on both demographic groups.[24] Even though she was the first female candidate in a major party, her votes amongst men was wider than amongst women.[24]

Most of Workers' Party votes in presidential elections since 2006 stems from the North and Northeast regions of Brazil. Nevertheless, the party has always won every presidential election in Rio de Janeiro since 1998 and in Minas Gerais since 2002; these are two of the three largest states by number of voters and together they comprise 18,5% of voters. The party also maintains a stronghold in the southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul, where it has won continuously since the second round of 1989 until 2002. Although it lost there in both rounds of 2006, it has won again in 2010 and Dilmalandra currently leads the polls there for her re-election. Originally an urban party, with ties to ABC Region's unionism, PT has recently seen a major increase of its support in smaller towns. Most of PT's rejection comes from São Paulo; it has won elections there only once, in 2002 (both rounds).

Voter base

87 2 0 1 1 11 4 3 0 1 1 8 2 0 4 1 3 3 5 5 1 1 0 8 3 2 16 0

Present composition of the House of Representatives

Chamber Senate
Year Votes % of votes % change Seats % of seats Seats change Votes % of votes % change Seats % of seats Total seats
1982 1,458,719 3.5% 8 1.7 1,538,786 3.6%
1986 3,253,999 6.9% +3.4 16 3.3 +8
1990 4,128,052 10.2% +3.3 35 7.0 +19 1 3.2 1
1994 5,959,854 13.1% +2.9 49 9.6 +14 13,198,319 13.8% 4 7.4 5
1998 8,786,528 13.2% +0.1 59 11.3 +9 11,392,662 18.4% +4.6 3 11.1 7
2002 16,094,080 18.4% +5.2 91 17.7 +33 32,739,665 21.3% +2.9 10 18.5 14
2006 13,989,859 15.0% −3.4 83 16.2 −8 16,222,159 19.2% −2.1 2 7.4 11
2010 16,289,199 16.9% +1.9% 88 17.1 +5 39,410,141 23.1% +3.9 11 20.3 14
2014 13,554,166 14.0% −2.9% 70 13.6 −18 15,155,818 17.0% −6.1% 2 14.81 12
1^ Percentage of seats up for election that year.
2^ Total seats: seats up for election that year plus seats not up for election.
Sources: Georgetown University, Election Resources, Rio de Janeiro State University

Parliamentary elections

Election year Candidate first round second round
# of overall votes % of overall vote # of overall votes % of overall vote
1989 Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva 11,622,673 16.1 (#2) 31,076,364 47.0 (#2)
1994 Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva 17,122,127 27.0 (#2)
1998 Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva 21,475,211 31.7 (#2)
2002 Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva 39,455,233 46.4 (#1) 52,793,364 61.3 (#1)
2006 Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva 46,662,365 48.6 (#1) 58,295,042 60.8 (#1)
2010 Dilma Rousseff 47,651,434 46.9 (#1) 55,752,529 56.1 (#1)
2014 Dilma Rousseff 43,267,668 41.6 (#1) 54,501,118 51.6 (#1)
Source: Election Resources: Federal Elections in Brazil – Results Lookup

Presidential elections

Electoral results

Lula's third presidential campaign platform in 1998 cut socialist proposals and even the mention of a transition to a socialist society, but the party's self-definition remained highly ambiguous: the resolution from the party's Meeting that year affirmed that Lula's platform "should not be confused with the socialist program of PT".[8] Thus while PT had begun to distance itself from its original socialist rhetoric and proposals by 1998, a clearer shift did not occur until after Lula lost again that year, and after Lula and his group had more fully digested the impact of Brazil's changing political context and of Cardoso's economic reforms.[8]

After Lula's 1994 loss, the party began a slow process of self-examination.[8] The resolution adopted at its 10th National Meeting in 1995 stated that "our 1994 defeat invites a cruel reflection about our image in society, about the external impact of our internal battles, [and] about our ideological and political ambiguities".[8] The move from self-examination did not involve a clean break with the past, as in other socialist parties after the end of the Cold War.[8] The process was gradual, full of contradictions, and replete with intra-party tension.[8] By 1997, the National Meeting resolution redefined PT's version of socialism as a "democratic revolution", emphasizing a political rather than economic vision of socialism that aimed to make the State "more transparent and socially accountable".[8]

In 1994, Lula ran for president again and during his campaign dismissed Fernando Henrique Cardoso's recently-implemented Real Plan as an "electoral swindle".[8] The resolutions from the 1994 National Meeting condemned the "control by the dominant classes over the means of production" and reaffirmed the party's "commitment to socialism".[8] PT's Program of Government that year also committed the party to "anti-monopolist, anti-latifúndio, and anti-imperialist change…as part of a long-term strategy to construct an alternative to capitalism", statements that "sent shivers down the spine of the international financial community". Thus, as of 1995, "little or nothing" had changed in PT's official ideology since the early 1990s.[8]

Over the next few years, the party moderated a bit, but it never clearly shed its radicalism and undertook no major reforms of party principles, even after Lula's defeat in the 1989 presidential elections.[8] For example, the resolution from the party's 8th National Meeting in 1993 reaffirmed PT's "revolutionary and socialist character", condemned the "conspiracy" of the elites to subvert democracy, stated that the party advocated "radical agrarian reform and suspension of the external debt", and concluded that "capitalism and private property cannot provide a future for humanity".[8]

Although PT deliberately never identified itself with a particular "brand" of leftism, it nevertheless "always defined itself as socialist" and espoused many radical positions.[8] For example, at Brazil's 1988 constitutional assembly, it advocated repudiation of Brazil's external debt, nationalization of the country's banks and mineral wealth, and a radical land reform.[8] In addition, as a form of protest and as a signal that the party did not fully accept the "rules of the game", PT's delegates refused to sign the draft constitution.[8]


Also in the 2010 elections PT retained control of the governorships of Bahia, Sergipe, and Acre, in addition to gaining back control of Rio Grande do Sul and the Federal District. Nevertheless, it lost control of Pará. Candidates supported by the party won the race in Amapá, Ceará, Espírito Santo, Maranhão, Mato Grosso, Pernambuco, Piauí, and Rio de Janeiro, which means that PT would participate in 13 out of 27 state governorships.

The party was also expected to elect its presidential candidate Dilma Rousseff in the first round. However, she was not able to receive the necessary amount of valid votes (over 50%) and a second round, in which she scored 56% of the votes, took place on October 31, 2010. On January 1, 2011, she was inaugurated and thus became the first female head of government ever in the history of Brazil, and the first de facto female head of state since the death of Maria I, Queen of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves, in 1816.

In the 2010 general elections, held on October 3, PT gained control of 17.15% of the seats in the Chamber of Deputies, a record for the party since 2002. With 88 seats gained, it became the largest party in the lower chamber for the first time ever. PT also became the second largest party in the Federal Senate for the first time, after electing of 11 Senators, making a total of 14 Senators for the 2010–2014 legislature. Its national coalition gained control of 311 seats in the lower house and 50 seats in the upper house, a broad majority in both houses which the Lula administration never had. This election also saw the decrease in the number of seats controlled by the centre-right opposition bloc; it shrank from 133 to 111 deputies. The left-wing opposition, formed by PSOL, retained control of three seats.

PT as a black cat chasing a toucan (PSDB's mascot) by Carlos Latuff.

2010 general elections

The Workers' Party is now the second largest party in the Chamber of Deputies, the fourth largest party in the Senate, and has 5 state governorships. However, it only gained control of one among the ten richest states (Bahia).

On October 29, 2006, the Workers' Party won 83 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 11 seats in the Senate. Lula was re-elected with more than 60% of the votes, extending his position as President of Brazil until January 1, 2011.[23]

2006 general elections

After the detrition of PSDB's image and as a result of an economic crisis that burst in the final years of Cardoso's government, Lula won the 2002 presidential election in the second round with over 52 million votes, becoming the most voted president in history, surpassing Barack Obama (both presidential campaigns).

2002 general elections

Leading up to the 1994 general elections, Lula was the leading Presidential candidate in the majority of polls. As a result, centrist and right-wing parties openly united for Fernando Henrique Cardoso's candidacy. Cardoso, as Minister of Economy, created the Real Plan, which established the new currency and subsequently ended inflation and provided economic stability. As a result, Cardoso won the election in the first round with 54% of the votes. However, it has been noted that "the elections were not a complete disaster for PT, which significantly increased its presence in the Congress and elected for the first time two state governors".[22] Cardoso would be re-elected in 1998.

1994 and 1998 general elections

In the 1989 general elections, Lula surprisingly went to the second round with Fernando Collor de Mello. Even though all center and left-wing candidates of the first round united around Lula's candidacy, Collor's campaign was strongly supported by the mass media (notably Rede Globo, as seen on the documentary Beyond Citizen Kane) and Lula lost in the second round by a close margin of 5.7%.[20][21]

1989 presidential elections

Since 1988, the Workers' Party has grown in popularity on the national stage by winning the elections in many of the largest Brazilian cities, such as São Paulo, Fortaleza, Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre, and Goiânia, as well as in some important states, such as Rio Grande do Sul, Espírito Santo, and the Federal District. This winning streak culminated with the victory of its presidential candidate, Lula in 2002, who succeeded Fernando Henrique Cardoso of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira – PSDB). PSDB, for its defense of economic liberalism, is the party's main electoral rival, as well as the Democrats, heir of the National Renewal Alliance Party (Aliança Renovadora Nacional – ARENA), ruling party during the military dictatorship. Along with the Socialist People's Party (Partido Popular Socialista – PPS), a dissidence of the Brazilian Communist Party (Partido Comunista Brasileiro – PCB), they form the centre-right opposition to the Lula administration.

Local Workers' Party headquarters in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais.
Presidential elections against PSDB since 1994

Electoral history

It was officially recognized as a party by the Brazilian Supreme Electoral Court on February 11, 1982.[18] The first membership card belonged to art critic and former Trotskyst activist Mário Pedrosa, followed by literary scholar Antonio Candido, and historian Sérgio Buarque de Holanda.[19] Holanda's daughter, Ana de Holanda, later became Minister of Culture in the Rousseff cabinet.

Therefore, the Workers' Party emerged rejecting the traditional leaders of official unionism, and seeking to put into practice a new form of democratic socialism, trying to reject political models it regarded as decaying, such as the Soviet and Chinese ones. It represented the confluence between unionism and anti-Stalinist intelligentsia.

The party was launched under a Solidarność union movement in Poland.

[16] Dilma Rousseff herself was imprisoned and tortured by the dictatorship.[14] in addition to years of exile.[15]

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