The Institutionalization of the Brazilian Workers’ Party from the Viewpoint of Its Electoral Campaigning, 1980-2010

By Camille Goirand

Since its creation in 1980, the Workers’ Party (PT) has steadily enlarged its electoral forces. The beginning of the 2000s was a decisive turning point when its historic leader, Lula, won the Presidency. Gaining access to government and public administrations, at the local and national levels, had several consequences, such as the political professionalization of the party leaders, growing resources, changes in power balances within the organization, as well as in the social roots of the party. For the analysis of those changes, electoral campaigns may be a good indicator. This paper is based on ethnographic data, collected during several electoral campaigns between 1994 and 2010. During the “time of politics”, campaigning has always been pervasive in Brazilian big cities. Since the 1980s, the PT’s electoral campaigns have passed through dramatic changes, at the national and the local level of Pernambuco. The observation of several electoral meetings in Recife, organized by various local PT candidates, is revealing of the segmentation of the organization, of the individualization of the strategies of its leaders, and of the heterogeneous characteristics of organizational change within the PT.

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