1969-1969: Martin Luther King Jr. (Peace and Freedom)
1968 (with Benjamin Spock) def. George Wallace (Democratic), George Romney (National Freedom Republican), Barry Goldwater (Republican)
Presidents of the United States of America (Populist)
1969-1973: Martin Luther King Jr. (Peace and Freedom)
1973-1973: Martin Luther King Jr. (Peoples' Union)
1972 (with Pete McCloskey) def. Hubert Humphrey (Democratic)
Brazil might have the least useful party system in the developed world - this might hinge on your definition of "the developed world", and indeed the Brazilian party system really bears much closer resemblance to those of countries like the Philippines or Indonesia than it does either European or other Latin American ones. In the history of the Brazilian Republic, there's been two one-party periods, a brief interlude of relatively healthy democracy in the 50s and 60s, then a brutal military dictatorship that forced everyone who supported the government into one party, everyone who was willing to serve as a puppet opposition into another party, and everyone who wanted to genuinely fight the regime into various urban guerrilla groups. When democracy was re-established in the mid-80s, everyone and his uncle tried to start a new political party, and the existing political forces fractured a hundred different ways, the result being a party system where it is perfectly feasible to have twelve seats in a state all represented by members of different parties. There were twenty-eight parties in the 55th Chamber of Deputies, sixteen of which won at least ten seats.
The situation isn't helped by the Brazilian electoral system, which is PR by state, but the voter votes for a single candidate rather than a party. The seats are distributed proportionally between registered coalitions, then between the parties within each coalition. Obviously, the coalitions are different on every level, even though presidential, legislative, and state elections are all held on the same day. A party might be part of one coalition nominating a state gubernatorial candidate, a second coalition nominating a slate of congressional candidates, and a third coalition nominating presidential and vice-presidential candidates.
As you may have guessed, the core issue here is that the "parties" don't really function as parties. Politicians build a local voter base, which they bring with them into whichever party they happen to be a member of, and the parties join coalitions and formulate policies based solely on what their elected officials think is strategic for the moment rather than anything so banal as "principles" or "ideology".
That said, we can sort of build a left-right scale. Or at least we can identify a few parties that are recognisably left-wing and a few who are particularly rabidly right-wing. The left lines up roughly as follows:
- The Workers' Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores, PT) is Brazil's major socialist political force. It was formed by dissident trade unionists, Marxist intellectuals and Catholic liberation theology supporters in 1980, at the height of the military dictatorship, and came out of the woodworks to find itself the largest party on the left, with its candidate, former industrial worker and trade unionist Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva, coming second in the 1989 presidential election and ultimately winning power in 2002. While in power, the PT spearheaded a huge expansion of the Brazilian welfare state, making it their goal to see poverty and hunger eliminated from Brazil. Lula served out his two terms and stayed hugely popular, even as the PT itself came under suspicion of corruption, and his handpicked successor Dilma Rousseff, a former member of one of the aforementioned urban guerrillas, was elected President in 2010. She was re-elected in 2014, and impeached by the National Congress in 2016 on dubious and controversial grounds. The PT carries on in opposition, and continues to be a very pluralist movement, with groups ranging from moderate social democrats to Marxist-Leninist revolutionaries to Catholic leftists sharing space in the party.
- The Communist Party of Brazil (Partido Comunista do Brasil, PCdoB) is half of the old Communist Party, the oldest existing party in Brazil which split down the middle over the Sino-Soviet split in 1962 - the PCdoB being the pro-China half. Its lack of overt Soviet ties made it slightly less targeted by the CIA, but the military regime didn't care overmuch which communists they were beating down, so it came out of the military era a battered, hardened organisation. It would embrace popular front doctrine, backing Lula for president in every election he stood in, and gradually it found a niche for itself as the PT's more stridently left-wing sister organisation, winning a few deputies within the lulista coalition and even securing the running-mate position in 2018 after the PT's bigger allies left the coalition.
- The Party of Socialism and Freedom (Partido Socialismo e Liberdade, PSOL) was founded in 2004 as a left-wing split from the PT in criticism of the party's decision to ally with centrist and centre-right politicians in the Congress. It contains Trotskyites, eco-socialists, alter-globalists and various more "intellectual" strands of leftism, in addition to lending out spaces on its lists to unregistered extreme-left movements, and its base is primarily made up of left-wingers in the intellectual middle classes rather than actual workers. It's put up its own presidential candidacies in every election since its founding, but has never gotten anywhere significant, and is one of many parties to maintain a small but robust caucus in the Chamber of Deputies.
- The Republican Party of the Social Order (Partido Republicano da Ordem Social, PROS), despite very moderate Christian left origins, has been consistently behind Dilma since its founding in 2010, and supported PT continuity candidate Fernando Haddad in 2018, the only party other than the PT and the PCdoB to do so.
That's about it, really. A couple more parties are either more dubiously left-wing or have a history of sounding much more left-wing than they really are:
- The Brazilian Socialist Party (Partido Socialista Brasileiro, PSB) is a legacy party claiming the heritage of the pre-dictatorship PSB, which was never more than a minor player in the centre-left of that period. Its major base is the northeastern state of Pernambuco, where state governor Miguel Arraes brought in his campaign machine in the early 90s, and it continues to draw its most significant support in gubernatorial elections along the northeast coast. It sometimes backed Lula and sometimes not, eventually deciding to switch tacks and try to bring in right-wingers to bolster its local support in the states where it was competitive. This made it so hated by everyone to its left that it broke decisively with Dilma's coalition for the 2014 election, backing Marina Silva (see the Green Party section below) for president on its own ticket. Silva came in a very respectable third place with 21% of the vote, but this didn't benefit the PSB much downballot, and the party remained one of Brazil's many, many small parliamentary parties. It eventually backed the impeachment of Dilma, though to its credit, it did stop short of supporting Bolsonaro when he came to power in 2018.
- The Socialist People's Party (Partido Popular Socialista, PPS) is the result of the Communist Party of Brazil (the other half of the split from the PCdoB) deciding it didn't want to be a communist party anymore now that the USSR wasn't around, and promptly rebranding itself as a moderate centre-left social democratic party. It became a significant force when it was joined by former Governor of Ceará Ciro Gomes (notice a pattern here?), who used it as a vehicle for his centrist presidential runs in 1998 and 2002, and in 2006 it endorsed Lula's main opponent. Like the PSB, it helped vote down Dilma in 2016, and in 2019 changed its name to "Citizenship" (Cidadania) citing the misleading nature of their name when they clearly didn't have anything to do with socialism. Today they're a centrist liberal party, with much of their membership drawn from centre-right supporters disaffected with their former parties' turn to supporting Bolsonaro.
- The Democratic Labour Party (Partido Democrático Trabalhista, PDT) is the most left-wing of the various parties claiming the heritage of Getúlio Vargas' Brazilian Labour Party, one of the major political forces of pre-coup Brazil. The old Labour Party was working-class, centrist to centre-left and supportive of Vargas' authoritarian populism which bore a bit of a resemblance to that of Juan Perón in Argentina. The PDT was founded to carry on that tradition by Leonel Brizola, one of the true long-runners in Brazilian politics, who had been a senior figure in the pre-coup PTB and now sought to re-establish the moderate left as a political force. For most of the 80s it was touch-and-go whether the PDT or the PT would become the dominant centre-left party, and while the PDT lost out, it eventually came to accept its position as an ally of the PT. It supported Dilma through her impeachment, but in 2018, it played host to the return of Ciro Gomes, who again tried to launch a centre-left presidential bid, and again came in third place.
- The Green Party (Partido Verde, PV), is the kind of green party where the best thing you can say about it is "at least it's not the Mexican one". It claims the left-right divide as a concept is fundamentally outdated, and despite coming from anti-military activist roots, has never fit in well with the left. They got a bit of a boost from left-wingers disaffected by Lula's lack of interest in combatting climate change and deforestation, and a fairly big boost when, in 2009, former environment minister Marina Silva defected over from the PT and declared her candidacy for president on an environmentalist and anti-corruption platform. She got a respectable third place, and promptly left the party for reasons unclear to my cursory reading. It can't have been an amicable split, though, because they didn't endorse her in 2014, and have remained stubbornly independent ever since. They're currently the only party not listed as part of the government or the opposition, which I take to indicate that they believe even Bolsonaro isn't substantially worse for their aims than the PT.
As mentioned, there are also a few clearly right-wing parties:
- The Democrats (Democratas, DEM), formerly the Liberal Front Party (Partido da Frente Liberal, PFL) are the main heirs to the ARENA, the right-wing party set up to support the military regime - well, they were the half of the ARENA that decided maybe this democracy thing is worth taking a second look at. Its leaders have consistently denied that it's right-wing, but this is clearly about the same strategy that led them to name the party "the Democrats". It was among Lula's most implacable opponents throughout his presidency, and carried this attitude over to Dilma, whom they helped impeach. In the 2018 election they backed Geraldo Alckmin's candidacy, which attempted to unite the traditional centre-right against Bolsonaro, but gained absolutely no traction whatsoever, and they now support Bolsonaro in the Congress.
- The Progressives (Progressistas, PP), who like the Democrats have a decoy name, are the result of a merger of two parties who were each themselves the result of mergers between two parties, and one of those four parties was the half of the ARENA that thought this democracy thing was perhaps not worth taking a second look at. Despite generally being a very right-wing party, they've also tended to align with Lula and Dilma's governments out of a sense of wanting to be in the room where it happens. This stance has divided the party somewhat, with the Rio Grande do Sul branch nearly bolting from the party several times over what they see as excessive corruption and lack of principle. Their most famous member during this period was probably Rio de Janeiro deputy Jair Bolsonaro, who represented the party from 2005 until breaking with the leadership in 2016.
- The Party of the Republic (Partido da República, PR) are the result of a merger between the evangelical-inspired Liberal Party and the far-right, pro-military Party for the Reconstruction of the National Order. Like the Progressives, they formed a slightly awkward part of Dilma's coalition in 2014, but then turned on her, and currently form the second-biggest party in Bolsonaro's presidential majority.
- The Social Christian Party (Partido Social Cristão, PSC) are, as the name hints, a Christian democratic outfit, who had a brief surge of popularity in the late 80s before collapsing in the early 90s. They were able to find a path back to (some measure of) power by allying with the growing evangelical Protestant churches, current party leader Pastor Everaldo Pereira being a leading figure in the Brazilian Assemblies of God. These movements tend to be strongly socially conservative, and the PSC follows this line, taking a particularly hard stance against LGBT rights. Former judge Wilson Witzel was elected Governor of Rio de Janeiro on the party's ticket in 2018, and has ratcheted up police anti-drug operations in the state to nearly Dutertean levels. And of course, they played host to Bolsonaro from 2016 to 2018, during which time he laid much of the groundwork for his eventual presidential run.
- The National Ecological Party (Partido Ecológico Nacional, PEN) is one of the most ridiculous things to come out of the mess that is the Brazilian party system in recent years. Originally meant to be a centre-right environmentalist party that could support Marina Silva in case she couldn't get the PSB on side, it failed to attract her attention and instead moved toward a constituency of communitarian evangelicals ("PEN" was often thought to be a shibboleth abbreviation for "PENtecostal"). In 2017, Jair Bolsonaro began to alienate the PSC leadership (as he tends to do when he's stayed in a party for long enough) and decided to maybe have a look at the PEN, whose leaders were reasonably inclined towards him. In fact, they were so inclined towards him that at the mere hint of him possibly joining, they changed the name of the party to PATRIOTA (hopefully I shouldn't have to translate that), announced plans to start drawing in conservative Catholics as well as evangelicals, and most notably, completely abandoned environmentalism (Bolsonaro being an all-but-open climate change denier). After all this hoopla, when they asked Bolsonaro to make the leap, he said "nah" and went off in search of something else, but they stuck to the new course and stood a no-hoper candidate for President.
- When Bolsonaro decided to skip the PEN and carry on party-shopping a while longer, the vehicle he eventually picked out was the Social Liberal Party (Partido Social Liberal, PSL), a small party that until then had been libertarian, supporting gay rights and secularism but also backing the impeachment of Dilma and supporting free-market reforms. Bolsonaro did not change its name upon entering, but he did throw out the entire party platform and replace it with his own hard-right nationalist agenda. The old libertarian leadership left the party to found their own movement called Livres ("Free" (pl.)), which declared "independence" from Bolsonaro's government without formally aligning with the opposition.
- Oh, and of course, when Bolsonaro inevitably pissed off the PSL leadership in November 2019, he decided to found his own party called the Alliance for Brazil (Aliança pelo Brasil, APB), which basically supports whatever he says it supports. Why he didn't do this back in 2016 is frankly anyone's guess, but I suppose Brazil decided it just made too much sense as a country.
- Bolsonaro's other main cheerleading team beside the PSL were the Brazilian Labour Renewal Party (Partido Renovador Trabalhista Brasileiro, PRTB), a far-right outfit originally led by Levy Fidelix, a man who has both the name and physical appearance of a character from an Asterix comic, and who before 2018 was best known for making some fairly outrageous homophobic comments during the 2014 election campaign. Bolsonaro's vice-presidential candidate, General Hamilton Mourão, was parachuted into the party to legitimise his candidacy, because this is apparently somehow something you just need to do in Brazilian politics.
This leaves the largest group of parties by far, the ones who don't have any firm ideological direction, don't claim to have one, and have never really claimed to have one:
- The (Party of the) Brazilian Democratic Movement ((Partido do) Movimento Democratico Brasileiro, (P)MDB) was originally the catch-all controlled opposition party under the military dictatorship. They enjoyed a brief flowering of support in the 80s, holding a majority in the Chamber of Deputies that wrote the current Brazilian constitution, before splitting six ways from Sunday and leaving only the most morally-debased machine politicians still in the party. They made a conscious decision not to engage in presidential elections after 1994, no doubt partly to avoid forcing its members to choose one candidate to support from among them, and their main focus has been on state gubernatorial elections as well as the Senate, although they do elect a respectably-sized bloc of deputies as well. They did tend to support Lula and Dilma for the same reason the Progressives did, before turning around and impeaching Dilma upon realising that it would make one of their own President. In office, Michel Temer would do his level best to make himself equally despised by exactly everyone in Brazil, and the party underwent a slow-motion crisis ahead of the 2018 election as they realised they now actually had a record in government that they might have to defend. They dropped the "Party of" from their name, tried to position themselves as a centrist to centre-right liberal pro-open society party, and even made murmurs about the possibility of expelling some members whose political views were known to veer far from this new middle path. The result was complete electoral meltdown.
- The Party of Brazilian Social Democracy (Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira, PSDB), nicknamed the tucanos after the bird in their longtime party logo, is on the centre-right much like the Portuguese party with a similar name. As ever, the space between "social" and "democracy" is very, very important here. The PSDB originated as the left faction of the PMDB, who originally wanted to form a popular front with Lula and the PT, but when this was rebuffed they founded their own party in 1988. They stood sociology professor Fernando Henrique Cardoso for President in 1994, who won outright in the first round for two elections in a row and became the first Brazilian president ever to win re-election in a democratic vote. Cardoso had been known as a Marxist in academia, but because his main opponent in both elections was Lula, the right came to back his candidacy, and he governed as a Third Way centrist. It's a bit controversial how left-wing the PSDB ever was, but with Cardoso's election it definitely stopped being left of centre in any meaningful sense, and after his departure in 2002 it's only carried on drifting rightwards, forming the key opposition to Lula and Dilma and being just about the only party never to align with the PT in any coalition anywhere. They and the PMDB made up the key bloc behind the impeachment of Dilma, and they supported Temer's presidency before launching a broad centre-right coalition for the 2018 presidential election under Geraldo Alckmin, who had been their candidate against Lula in 2006 and now essentially promised a continuation of the centre-right establishment's politics. This was not at all an advisable strategy in that situation, and Alckmin wound up getting some 5% of the vote, with both the PSDB and PMDB losing about half their seats in the Chamber of Deputies.
- The Social Democratic Party (Partido Social Democrático, PSD), not to be confused with the above, is a new outfit founded in 2011 by São Paulo mayor Gilberto Kassab, who had previously been a Democrat. It was immediately accused of being a Lulista plant to steal votes from the opposition, and indeed Kassab supported Lula, but since Dilma's reelection it shifted rightwards, participating in both Temer's and Bolsonaro's presidential majorities.
- The Party of Christian Social Democracy (Partido Social Democrata Cristão, PSDC), not to be confused with the above or the above the above, was a minor Christian-democratic group who supported none of the coalitions in 2014, standing its own presidential candidate who won about 60,000 votes in a country of two hundred million. They did the same thing in 2018, having shortened their name to Christian Democracy (Democracia Cristã, DC), and... won some 40,000 votes. Insert Curb Your Enthusiasm theme here.
- Solidarity (Solidariedade) is a very moderate centre-left party linked to the Força Sindical, a trade union centre on the "pragmatic" end of the movement. Despite their trade unionist backing they've tended to align with the PSDB, supporting their candidacies in both the 2014 and 2018 elections.
- The Humanist Party of Solidarity (Partido Humanista da Solidariedade, PHS), not to be confused with the above, was a minor Christian-social grouping that backed Lula in 2002 only before sitting out two elections, backing Marina Silva in 2014, and finally fucking off into obscurity after the 2018 election, in which they won enough votes to be represented but not enough to secure public funding for the party itself.
- The Brazilian Republican Party (Partido Republicano Brasileiro, PRB) might or might not be the political wing of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus), a frankly quite unsettling evangelical church which has been banned in a number of African countries and been responsible for a large number of child abductions and manslaughters as part of their religious work, and runs the usual mildly exploitative tithing system expected of groups like it. The UCKG openly wants to create a "theocratic state" in Brazil, and has latterly supported Bolsonaro in his political efforts, though the PRB strenuously denies that this is its goal or indeed that it's connected with the UCKG at all. It even backed Lula and Dilma through most of their respective presidencies, citing their "concern for eliminating social inequality", but of course quite happily stuck the knife in and now supports Bolsonaro.
- The Brazilian Labour Party (Partido Trabalhista Brasileiro, PTB) is the other main party claiming the heritage of the old PTB aside from the PDT. They were awarded the name of the old party by the government, largely because of the involvement of Getúlio Vargas' great-niece in their founding, and have charted a more centrist course than that of their sister party, generally supporting the PSDB in its presidential bids and aligning with the opposition to Lula and Dilma.
- In 1989, a left faction split from the PTB to found the Labour Party of Brazil (Partido Trabalhista do Brasil, PTdoB). They've generally been in between the PTB and the PDT politically, but definitely closer to the latter - the PTdoB did support the opposition candidate in 2014, but banded together with the PDT to support Ciro's comeback in 2018. Perhaps recognising the slight People's Front of Judea vibe their name gave off, the party rebranded in 2017 to AVANTE ("FORWARD").
- The National Labour Party (Partido Trabalhista Nacional, PTN) was founded in 1995 by the brothers Dorival and José de Abreu, who were both in the Chamber of Deputies for either the PMDB or PSDB, even the Portuguese Wikipedia doesn't seem to care which of the two they represented. It carried on as a minor centrist force for twenty-odd years before changing its name to Podemos in 2016, inspired by Obama's election slogan rather than the Spanish party of the same name (as its leaders were anxious to point out). It began to flirt with e-democracy, broke out of Temer's presidential majority, tried to launch its senator Álvaro Dias as a presidential candidate with the backing of the PSC, and finally joined Bolsonaro's presidential majority after swallowing the PHS in November 2018. So it goes in Brazilian minor-party politics.
- The Progressive Republican Party (Partido Republicano Progressista, PRP), similarly to the PHS, was a small chancer party of the centre-right who merged with Podemos after doing shit in the 2018 elections.
- The Party of National Mobilisation (Partido da Mobilização Nacional, PMN) is another independent centre-left group, who backed Lula but not Dilma, and to their credit at least don't back Bolsonaro either. AFAICT, their name is the most interesting thing about them.
- Finally, the Christian Labour Party (Partido Trabalhista Cristão, PTC) have perhaps the most misleading name out of everyone - they have very little to do with the labour movement, the PTB legacy, or organised Christianity, and were formerly the hard-right libertarian National Reconstruction Party (Partido da Reconstrução Nacional, PRN), most famous as the party whose candidate, Fernando Collor de Mello, was elected president in 1989 in the first free and direct presidential election since the 1964 coup. Collor proceeded to burn everything in his path and resign to avoid impeachment, which led his party to undergo a bit of a crisis and decide to rebrand in what might be either the least conspicuous or the most conspicuous way possible, depending on your point of view.
Conservative: Sunak! He's our man! Our second majority, and even more of a landslide than the first! Ignore Johnson being glum, he's the bastard who did nothing as people died, he's the past, Sunak is the future! The future is Conservative! Rebuild Britain! For the Many, Not the Few!
Labour: Fuck Starmer. He led us in coalition with the fucking Tories and lost us the Red Wall. Now time to rebuild with Richard Burgon and a renewed commitment to Democratic Socialism, Pacifism, Anti-Zionism and standing up for all workers of the world.
You've Always Had It So Good II: Empire Of The SunakConservative: Sunak! He's our man! Our second majority, and even more of a landslide than the first! Ignore Johnson being glum, he's the bastard who did nothing as people died, he's the past, Sunak is the future! The future is Conservative! Rebuild Britain! For the Many, Not the Few!
Even in the future, US Libertarians gonna Libertarian.Turns out the party was in the habit of trafficking heavily illegal drugs like tobacco, believing that because of some weird conspiracy theory that because some president in like, the 2020s refused to step down when his term was up, his successor and therefore all of the State's actions from that was actually illegitimate, including the ban on tobacco in 2047. Got basically all their leaders arrested.