The Workers' Party ( pt|Partido dos Trabalhadores, PT) is a political party in Brazil. Some scholars classify its ideology in the 21st century as social democracy, with the party shifting from a broadly socialist ideology in the 1990s.Samuels, D. (2004). From Socialism to Social Democracy: Party Organization and the Transformation of the Workers’ Party in Brazil. Comparative Political Studies, 37(9), 999–1024. https://doi.org/10.1177/0010414004268856 Founded in 1980, it is the largest left-wing party in Latin America. PT governed at the federal level in a coalition government with several other parties from 1 January 2003 to 31 August 2016. After the 2002 parliamentary election, PT became the largest party in the Chamber of Deputies and the largest in the Federal Senate for the first time With the highest approval rating in the history of the country, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is PT's most prominent member. His successor Dilma Rousseff, also a member of PT, took office on 1 January 2011 and was impeached in 2016. Both born among the opposition to the coup d'état of 1964 and the subsequent military dictatorship, PT and the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB) from 1994 to 2014 were 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. Despite its relatively large number of supporters, the party has been involved in a number of corruption scandals since Lula first came to power and saw its popular support plummet between 2010 and 2016, with presidential approval ratings falling from over 80% to 9%. 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. Workers' Party's TSE (Superior Electoral Court) Identification Number is 13.


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 liberation theologySamuels, David
"From Socialism to Social Democracy: Party Organization and The Transformation of the Workers’ Party in Brazil"
''Comparative Political Studies''. p. 3.
on 10 February 1980 at Colégio Sion in São Paulo, a private Catholic school for girls. Agência Brasil
"Saiba mais sobre a história do PT"
Terra. 24 June 2006.
The party emerged as a result of the approach between the labor movements in the ABC Region such as the Conferência das Classes Trabalhadoras (Conclat), later developed into the Central Única dos Trabalhadores (CUT) which carried major strikes from 1978 to 1980; and the old Brazilian left-wing, whose proponents, many of whom were journalists, intellectuals, artists and union organizers, were returning from exile with the 1979 Amnesty law, many of them having endured imprisonment and torture at the hands of the military regime in addition to years of exile. Dilma Rousseff herself was imprisoned and tortured by the dictatorship. PT was launched under a democratic socialism trend. After the 1964 coup d'état, Brazil's main federation of labor unions, the General Command of Workers (''Comando Geral dos Trabalhadores'' – CGT), which since its formation gathered leaders approved by the Ministry of Labour, a practice tied to the fact that since Getúlio Vargas's dictatorship, unions had become quasi-state organs, was dissolved while unions themselves suffered intervention of the military regime. The resurgence of an organized labour movement, evidenced by strikes in the ABC Region on the late 1970s led by Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, enabled the reorganization of the labour movement without the direct interference of the state. The movement originally sought to act exclusively in union politics, but the survival of a conservative unionism under the domination of the state (evidenced in the refoundation of CGT) and the influence exercised over the trade union movement by leaders of traditional left-wing parties, such as the Brazilian Communist Party (''Partido Comunista Brasileiro –'' PCB), forced the unionist movement of ABC, encouraged by anti-Stalinist leaders, to organize its own party in a strategy similar to that held by the Solidarność union movement in Poland. Therefore, PT 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. PT was officially recognized as a party by the Brazilian Supreme Electoral Court on 11 February 1982. 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. Holanda's daughter Ana de Holanda later became Minister of Culture in the Rousseff cabinet.

Electoral history

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). For its defense of economic liberalism, PSDB is the party's main electoral rival as well as the Democrats, heir of the National Renewal Alliance (''Aliança Renovadora Nacional –'' ARENA), ruling party during the military dictatorship. Along with the Popular Socialist Party (''Partido Popular Socialista –'' PPS), a dissidence of PCB, they form the centre-right opposition to the Lula administration. 1989 presidential elections In the 1989 general elections, Lula went to the second round with Fernando Collor de Mello. Even though all centrist 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%. 1994 and 1998 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. As Minister of Economy, Cardoso 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". Cardoso would be re-elected in 1998. 2002 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 Ronald Reagan. 2006 general elections On 29 October 2006, PT won 83 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 11 seats in the Federal Senate. Lula was re-elected with more than 60% of the votes, extending his position as President of Brazil until 1 January 2011. PT is now the second largest party in the Chamber of Deputies, the fourth largest party in the Federal Senate and has 5 state governorships. However, it only gained control of one among the ten richest states (Bahia). 2010 general elections In the 2010 general elections held on 3 October, 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 as it shrank from 133 to 111 deputies. The left-wing opposition, formed by PSOL, retained control of three seats. 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 number of valid votes (over 50%) and a second round in which she scored 56% of the votes took place on 31 October 2010. On 1 January 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 in 1816 of Maria I, Queen of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves. 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.

Cabinet representation

PT enjoyed strong representation in the cabinets it led for most of the time that it was in office. PT held the majority of cabinet positions in the first two coalitions, with its occupation of ministerial positions comprising 60% in the first coalition, 54.8% in the second coalition and 46.5% in the third coalition.


Although PT deliberately never identified itself with a particular brand of leftism, it nevertheless "always defined itself as socialist" and espoused many radical positions. For example, at the Brazilian Constituent Assembly of 1988 it advocated repudiation of Brazil's external debt, nationalization of the country's banks and mineral wealth and a radical land reform. 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. 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. 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". In 1994, Lula ran for the presidency again and during his campaign dismissed Fernando Henrique Cardoso's recently implemented Real Plan as an "electoral swindle". 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". 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. After Lula's 1994 loss, the party began a slow process of self-examination. 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, ndabout our ideological and political ambiguities". 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. The process was gradual, full of contradictions and replete with intra-party tension. 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". 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 as the resolution from the party's Meeting that year affirmed that Lula's platform "should not be confused with the socialist program of PT". 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.

Electoral history

Presidential elections

Chamber of Deputies and Senate elections

Voter base

Most of the 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 from 1998 to 2014 and in Minas Gerais from 2002 to 2014 (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. 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 as it has won elections there only once in 2002 (both rounds). The historical PT rejection in São Paulo was more widespread in interior than the capital as PT won the 1988, 2000 and 2012 São Paulo mayoral election and was a major force in his homeland, the Greater São Paulo. Despite this, the party lost its support even in the region and has not won any electoral zone in the capital in 2016 municipal elections. Fernando Haddad, the candidate seeking reelection, stayed in a distant second place, with 36 percentual points below the winner João Doria. PT managed to win in only one city of the region, the small and distant municipality of Franco da Rocha. PT is also strongly rejected in other states of the Center-South, such as Rio de Janeiro, which until 2018 had voted in the Workers Party presidential candidates in all new republic elections except 1994, the party shows strong difficulties to make representatives in federal, state and municipal levels. The party never elected a mayor in the capital of the state, never elected a governor (Benedita da Silva, the sole governor of the state from the party, took over because the resignation of the titular Anthony Garotinho in 2002, which her party had broken some years early, and was massive defeated in the same year's election by the Garotinho's wife Rosângela Matheus) and is often overturned in elections by left-wing parties with much less weight in national elections. The triumphs in the state were more associated with a strong rejection of PSDB in the state (which is even more weak and rejected despite his national strength) than a support of PT's program. In 2018 presidential elections, PT lost in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo with similar percentages in both states, with a difference of only 0.02% less percent of valid votes to the party in São Paulo. Despite being a southeastern state, many regions of Minas Gerais, especially in the north region of the state, had strong economic, cultural and socially ties with the Northeast. São Francisco River, a symbol of the Northeast, has its source in a small city of Minas, Pirapora. With the exception of Rio Grande do Sul and Distrito Federal, PT never gets an elected governor in the Center-south until 2014, when Fernando Damata Pimentel was elected governor of Minas Gerais. PT had a strong electoral stronghold in North Brazil and in the Amazonian region; The party triumphed in every state governorship in Acre from 1990 to 2018. However, the Acre section of the party is far more independent and moderate than the rest of the party and PT had only won the presidential election in the state twice in 2002 and 2006. PT also lost the governorship of Acre in 2018 to a candidate from right-wing Progressive Party. Roraima, which the impact of the controversy about the indigenous territory of Raposa Serra do Sol, which former President Lula gave strong support despite the opposition of the non-indigenous people; and Rondonia, which had a large population of evangelicals and south/southeastern migrants, also show reservations about the party. The electoral stronghold was also lost in 2018 elections; PT only triumphed in the states of Pará and Tocantins, the only states in the region which borders Brazilian Northeast and much of their culture is near from Northwest than the rest of Amazon. In Amazonas, the largest Brazilian states, PT lost in 2018 for the first time since 1998; PT lost in the capital of the state, Manaus, a free zone which concentrates more than the half of the population of the state; in the large, sparsely inhabited interior of the Amazonian state, PT win by a large margin but insufficient to guarantee the fifth triumph of the party in the state on presidential election. PT, however, maintained and expanded his stronghold in Northeast Brazil, conquered in Lula first elections in 2002. Since 2002, the only time that a state other than these which did not vote in PT in a presidential election was Alagoas in both rounds of 2002 presidential elections. PT and its allies was able to make big gains in north and northeast regions of Brazil even in times which the party was in crisis, like in the last mayoral elections. PT's most loyal party PCdoB and former allies Brazilian Socialist Party (''Partido Socialista Brasileiro'' − PSB) and Democratic Labour Party (''Partido Democrático Trabalhista'' − PDT) made huge gains in region together with PT in the Lula−Rouseff era. PCdoB is now the strongest party in Maranhão state and was able to elect the mayor of Aracaju, Sergipe; PSB is now the strongest party in the states of Pernambuco and Paraíba; and PDT was able to triumph in three capitals of the northeastern. Despite losing all capitals in northwest, PT had the governorships of three northwestern states, Piauí, Bahia and Ceará. The governorship of Bahia, conquered in 2006, is symbolical. The party was a stronghold of Liberal Front Party (''Partido da Frente Liberal'' − PFL), now Democrats (''Democratas'' − DEM), the greatest ideological rival of PT in national level. PSDB is a strongest party and headed all presidential tickets which PFL/DEM participated since 1994, but the origin of PSDB resembling with the origins PT as a leftist opposition to the dictatorship, and the parties had strong links until PSDB broke with PT and join in a coalition with PFL, a right-wing party with strong fiscal conservative views, associated with the Brazilian military regime in 1993 and the homeland of Antônio Carlos Magalhães, the strongest leadership of PFL and a fierce foe of PT. Bahia is now the main stronghold of PT, the most reliable state for the Petismo and is considered a governance model to the party. Despite this, the state's capital Salvador is governed by ACM Neto, a leading member of DEM and grandson of Antonio Carlos Magalhães. The party is often accused of exploit the North–South divide in Brazil to gain votes in the northeast. The party denies the claims and accuses the opposition to do the same in the South and Southeast. According to a poll conducted by IBOPE on 31 October 2010, during the second round voting PT's candidate Dilma Rouseff had an overwhelming majority of votes among the poorest Brazilians.Entre mais pobres, Dilma teve 26 pontos de folga
O Estado de S. Paulo. 7 November 2010.
Her lead was of 26% among those who earned a minimum wage or less per month. Rouseff also had the majority of votes among Catholics (58%), blacks (65%) and mixed-race Brazilians (60%). Amongst whites and Protestants, she was statistically tie to José Serra and her lead was of only 4% on both demographic groups. Even though she was the first female candidate in a major party, her votes amongst men was wider than amongst women.


2003–2007 internal crisis and split

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 Social Insurance Reform. Among these members were congressman João Batista Oliveira de Araujo (known as Babá) and senator Heloísa Helena, who formed the Socialism and Liberty Party (''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. 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 30 January 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.

BANCOOP 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 real revenue. The cooperative was found to have illegally padded 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.

2006 electoral scandal

This scandal unfolded around September 2006, just two weeks before general elections. As a result, Berzoini left the coordination of Lula's re-election after allegedly using 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 25 April 2007, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal unanimously cleared Lula of any responsibility for this scandal.

Mensalão 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. 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.

Lava Jato scandal

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. José Genoino, José Dirceu, Delcídio do Amaral, André Vargas and Delúbio Soares were also arrested in the process. Most recently, former President Lula was arrested in April 2018.


Since its inception the party has been led by the following: *Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (10 February 1980 – 24 January 1994) *Rui Falcão (1994) *José Dirceu (1995–2002) *José Genoíno (2002–2005) *Tarso Genro (2005) (interim) *Ricardo Berzoini (2005–2006) *Marco Aurélio Garcia (6 October 2006 – 2 January 2007) (interim) *Ricardo Berzoini (2 January 2007 – 19 February 2010) *José Eduardo Dutra (19 February 2010 – 29 April 2011) *Rui Falcão (29 April 2011 – 3 June 2017) *Gleisi Hoffmann (since 3 June 2017)


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

Tendencies integrating the Building a New Brazil field

Considered the right-wing of the party, i.e. going from centre to centre-left. *Articulation - Unity on Struggle (AUNL) *PT Movement *Radical Democracy (DR)

Tendencies categorized as the left-wing of the party

* (O Trabalho, OT) *Left-wing Articulation (AE) *Socialist Democracy (DS) *Socialist Brazil (BS) *Democratic Left (ED) *Popular Socialist Left (EPS) *Socialist Resistance (RS)

Former factions

*Workers' Cause (CO) – seceded from the party in 1990 as the Labour Cause's Party (PCO) * (CS) – seceded in 1993 as part of Unified Workers' Socialist Party (PSTU) *Workers' Socialist Current (CST) – seceded in 2004 to form the Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL) *Socialist Left Movement (MES) – seceded in 2004 to form the Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL) *Popular Socialist Action (APS) – seceded in 2005 and joined the Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL) *Tendency for the Workers' Revolutionary Party (TPOR) – Trotskyist faction that seceded in 1990 as the Workers' Revolutionary Party (POR) *Marxist Left (EM), the Brazilian section of the Trotskyist International Marxist Tendency. Marxist Left released a statement saying that "for the revolutionaries, there is no more room for the construction of socialist ideas within PT".

Famous members

Its members are known as ''petistas'', from the Portuguese acronym PT. * Henos Amorina * Alexandre Padilha * Aloízio Mercadante * Ana Julia Carepa * Antônio Palocci * Arlindo Chinaglia * Benedita da Silva * Binho Marques * Chico Buarque * Chico Mendes * Dilma Rousseff * Eduardo Suplicy * Fernando Haddad * Fernando Pimentel * Guido Mantega * Jaques Wagner * João Paulo Cunha * João Vaccari Neto * José Dirceu * Luis Favre * Luiz Gushiken * Lula * Luizianne Lins * Marcelo Déda * Marco Aurélio Garcia * Marilena Chaui * Juliana Prestes, niece of Luís Carlos Prestes * Olívio Dutra * Paulo Delgado * Paulo Freire * Rodrigo Maroni * Sérgio Buarque de Holanda * Tarso Genro * Wellington Dias


Further reading

In English

* * * * *

In Portuguese

* 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 (1994). ''O sonho era possível''. São Paulo: Casa das Américas. * 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 (1980). ''Sobre o PT''. São Paulo: CHED Editorial. * 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''. * Singer, André. ''Os Sentidos do Lulismo''.

Annotated bibliography

Carlos Henrique Metidieri MenegozzoDainis KarepovsAline Fernanda MacielPatrícia Rodrigues da SilvaRodrigo Cesar
"Partido dos Trabalhadores: bibliografia comentada (1978–2002)"
(PDF). São Paulo: Editora Fundação Perseu Abramo. 413 p.

External links

Tribunal Superior Eleitoral (Brazilian Electoral Superior Court)
Partido dos Trabalhadores (Workers' Party) official webpage
{{Authority control Category:Democratic socialist parties in South America Category:Organizations that support same-sex marriage