By Perry Anderson
London Review of Books
That success has owed much to an exceptional set of personal gifts, a mixture of warm social sensibility and cool political calculation, or – as his successor, Dilma Rousseff, puts it – rational assessment and emotional intelligence, not to speak of lively good humour and personal charm. But it was also, in its origins, inseparable from a major social movement. Lula’s rise from worker on the shop-floor to leader of his country was never just an individual triumph: what made it possible was the most remarkable trade-union insurgency of the last third of a century, creating Brazil’s first – and still only – modern political party, which became the vehicle of his ascent. The combination of a charismatic personality and a nationwide mass organisation were formidable assets.
Nevertheless, Lula’s success was far from a foregone conclusion.
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