Miguel Sorans, leader of Izquierda Socialista and the IWU-FI
As a result of the runoff, a debate has been opened between the parties that make up the FIT-Unidad. It was not the intention of Izquierda Socialista to enter into a controversy over the tactics that each organization adopted. But given the public criticism of Izquierda Socialista by PTS, PO and MST, for our position of a critical vote to Massa to try to prevent a triumph of the far-right Milei, we feel obliged to respond to seek clarification among those who read the different publications on the left.
Izquierda Socialista promotes the critical vote for Massa but respects the diversity of tactics of the FIT-U in the runoff
We know that many comrades who sympathise with FIT-U and the left, logically, are concerned that this type of debate could deteriorate the unity of the front. But these debates have been commonplace since the Left Front was founded 12 years ago. There were some and very hard ones, for example, during the PASO (Simultaneous and Mandatory Open Primaries). Izquierda Socialista respects the diversity that exists in the FIT-U, as well as its debates and we consider that we always have to face them to strengthen the front. We have a solid unity with a strategic revolutionary program in the fight for a government of the working class, but we have multiple political differences and criteria, including how to approach debates.
From Izquierda Socialista, for example, we do not believe that it is very positive that, because of the diversity of an electoral tactic in a runoff, whether it is a critical vote or a blank vote, terms such as “opportunist” be used. But everyone makes the debates as they see fit. For our part, it did not cross our minds to define that whoever is for a blank vote or abstention, between Milei and Massa, is a “sectarian” or another definition. In our statement of 6 November 2023 (see izquierdasocialista.org) we clearly say that we respect that position: “Although we do not share it, nor is it our proposal, we respect the blank, null or abstention vote as alternatives to the repudiation of the far-rightist Milei.” We even reassert with pride that after 10 days of intense internal exchange, when we adopted the tactic of critical voting, also in Izquierda Socialista we democratically decided to authorize comrades who did not agree with the broad majority position, to express their own voting criteria in the runoff.
It is very wrong to accuse Izquierda Socialista of “sliding”, “opportunistic” or “beautifying Massa”
Guillo Pistonesi, leader of PTS, wrote a note talking about the “slide” of Izquierda Socialista and that “only in passing is it mentioned” Sergio Massa and his support for Israel (Izquierda Diario, 6 November 2023). Guillermo Pacagnini, leader of the MST, goes so far as to say “opportunistic positions like those of IS that sow expectations in Massa” (Periodismo de Izquierda, 13 November 2023).
Both the PTS and MST expressions are false. Neither Izquierda Socialista mentions “in passing” Massa and his bosses’ government and his pro-imperialist and pro-Zionist positions, nor does it “plant expectations in Massa”. Quite the opposite. We clarify the meaning of the critical vote to Massa. It is enough to listen to the statements of “Pollo” Sobrero or Giordano again or to read our public statement to know that we permanently denounce Massa and his adjusting government and we do not stop doing so for even a second. Our denunciation of Massa is not “in passing”. Our statement begins by denouncing Massa: “The first thing we want to point out is that this is a contest between two bosses’ candidates who, with their different projects and differences, represent big businessmen, banks, multinationals and the IMF. They are two variations of adjustment. One, Sergio Massa, who is already applying it from the government that he integrates, together with Alberto and Cristina Fernandez, endorsed by the union bureaucracy. The other is the far-right Milei, who does not stop announcing it with his ‘chainsaw’ plan against working people. That is why we say that whoever wins, there will be greater adjustment and submission to the Monetary Fund, which we face from now on.” We were clear and blunt with the meaning of the critical vote for Massa: “It does not mean endorsing or giving him political support. We do it from a policy of class independence. It is a vote, neither to support the current bosses’ and adjusting government, nor to support its policy of endorsing Israel’s genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza, as we have been denouncing. It is a vote with a blocked nose that accompanies millions to try to prevent us from having a far-right government of the fascist Milei as of 10 December” (IS Statement, 6 November 2023, izquierdasocialista.org). This has been made clear by all the journalists when they spread the news of our proposal, saying that we were doing it with an addition, “critically”, that is, without giving any support or endorsement to this government or the one that comes.
Didn’t the critical votes of PTS, PO and MST to bosses’ variants in other countries put class independence “in question”?
Comrade Pistonesi comes out to say, on behalf of PTS, that the critical vote for Massa by Izquierda Socialista puts “the class political independence” of the FIT-U into question. PO makes the same criticism, in the note by Pablo Giachelo in Prensa Obrera (13 November 2023) titled “A blow to the struggle for the political independence of the workers.” The MST repeats the same definition in the note already quoted.
They want to establish that Izquierda Socialista would break with a principle of the FIT-U but nothing could be further from the truth. We make it clear, once again, that this is an electoral tactic (no question of “principles”) that, on some occasions, we revolutionary socialists have used.
What is contradictory and eye-catching is that PTS, PO and MST, with their allied parties or groups, have adopted this electoral tactic in various elections in Latin America.
PO recognizes in its statement on the runoff: “We position ourselves to vote for Boric, Castillo, Petro or MAS in Bolivia.” He failed to add that, like PTS and MST, they all supported the critical vote for the candidate Fernando Haddad of the PT and his bosses’ allies against Bolsonaro in 2018.
We agree with those “critical voting” tactics. Our international current, the IWU–IF, also promoted some of those critical votes. Especially that of Haddad versus Bolsonaro. But it is important to clarify to the fighters that these are critical votes for candidates with bourgeois formulas in the face of far-right variants similar to Milei’s. Let’s see how the MRT of Brazil, an allied party of the PTS, formulated it: “We launched the critical vote to Haddad without giving any political support to the PT since we do not share its strategy of class conciliation” (Flavia Valle and Maíra Machado, teachers and militants of the MRT, 17 October 2018, Izquierda Diario Brazil). More or less, similar words to the formulation of Izquierda Socialista’s critical vote for Massa.
In other words, if PTS, PO and MST apply it, isn’t class political independence in “question”? If the Izquierda Socialista applies it, is it? It does not stand up to the slightest analysis. It is another of the inconsistencies of PTS, PO and MST.
We do not agree with the vision of PTS, PO and MST that it does not matter whether Milei wins. This is why we promote the critical vote for Massa
The comrades of the PTS, PO and MST leaderships get tangled up in justifying their confusing vote, which in fact is a neither-nor: neither Milei nor Massa, arguing that a victory for Milei would not lead to “a fascist regime”. According to Comrade Pistonesi/PTS: “Izquierda Socialista seeks to justify the call to vote for Massa by implying that with Milei there would be a change of regime, a kind of coup d’état achieved through electoral means. And the government of national unity with the right that the current minister promotes would be the containment dam to avoid it, instead of a call to the workers’ united front to hit them with the struggle together, as a single fist, but maintaining political independence, without mixing banners by calling to vote for a direct representative of the bosses like Sergio Massa.”
There are several things to clarify here since Pistonesi/PTS falsify and distort the position of Izquierda Socialista. Nowhere has Izquierda Socialista written or said, much less is it “implying”, that if Milei wins there would be “a change of regime” with “a kind of coup d’état”. And even less that “the government of national unity” of Massa “would be the containment dam” and this is why Izquierda Socialista calls to “vote for a direct representative of the bosses like Sergio Massa.” Everything is invented by Pistonesi.
We do not consider that a possible electoral victory for Milei automatically means a “coup” or “fascist regime change” in the sense that the next day all democratic freedoms will be prohibited, parliament will be closed, political parties will be banned, the right to strike cancelled, and thousands of people are imprisoned. In other words, there should be a fascist counterrevolution. But PTS, PO and MST, do you think it doesn’t matter whether the fascists Milei and Villarruel can govern the country? It does not take the arrival of a fascist “coup” for a far-right government to try to apply measures such as, for example, pardoning genocidal perpetrators, privatizing education, health, or trains, cancelling the right to legal abortion, closing ministries and leaving thousands of unemployed people in the streets or repress picketers or workers marches for their demands. This is what millions of workers, women and dissidents, youth, picketers or students from public schools or universities sense, and that is why they are going to vote with their noses covered for Massa, to try to prevent the fascist Milei from reaching the government. As simple as that.
This is what PTS, PO and MST deny, to the point of minimizing the danger posed by a possible Milei/Villarruel government. Pistonesi/PTS are the clearest. They go so far as to say that “today LLA (La Libertad Avanza) is a current with minimal militancy, which cannot even achieve efficient oversight in an election.” In other words, there would be nothing to worry about.
The short-sightedness and political confusion of PTS, PO and MST is striking. Bolsonaro in Brazil, between 2018-2022, did not produce a “fascist regime change”, political parties were not prohibited, nor were all democratic freedoms or the right to strike. But Bolsonaro was and is an ultra-rightist, and his reactionary government acted against the masses and their rights. Because he denied the Covid pandemic and his opposition to vaccines, hundreds of thousands of people died in Brazil. Bolsonaro persecuted and curtailed the rights of workers, women, dissidents and the anti-racist Afro-descendant movement. And when he lost the elections in 2022, he tried to stage a coup d’état that failed.
Pistonesi/PTS try to paint themselves as “combative” and falsely accuse Izquierda Socialista of wanting to combat the far-right only with a “critical vote” and not with “struggling together, as a single fist”. We regret that they put up another slander and falsification. Izquierda Socialista has always called for mobilization against fascist actions or attacks, as was the case of the attack on our headquarters in La Plata or other leftist parties. Or as we did by participating in the unitary anti-repressive march on 9 November together with the Memory, Truth and Justice Encounter that we integrated with the FIT-U and countless organizations against the criminalisation of the protest of the current Peronist government and for the future threats from Milei.
Pistonesi/PTS talk a lot in their article about Brazil and the emergence of Bolsonaro but they hide or forget to mention that PTS in Brazil with its allied party, the MRT, made use of the tactic of “critical voting” for the candidate Haddad and their bosses allies against Bolsonaro in the 2018 elections. They said then that “sharing the hatred and will to fight of all the workers and young people who want to defeat Bolsonaro, we support their vote at the polls and vote critically for Haddad” (Izquierda Diario, Brazil, 17 October 2018). Something similar to what we say from Izquierda Socialista: we accompany the millions of workers and young people who want to defeat the arrival of the far-right Milei with a critical vote for Massa without giving him political support.
In other words, in Brazil PTS used the vote to “defeat” the arrival of a far-right government. However, Pistonesi/PTS seem to use the maxim “do as I say and not as I do.”
Brazil and Argentina have political similarities. Milei and the far-right grew in Argentina, not only because Massa put together the slate for them. They grew fundamentally because of the economic and social disaster to which the bosses’ governments, that forced t austerity measures on the working people, led us. Bolsonaro came to government after 12 years of austerity measures by the PT government. Eight years of Lula’s government with the businessman Alencar and four years of Dilma Rousseff with the liberal Temer as vice presidents. Unfortunately, popular hatred of Lula and Dilma, as is the case here with the Peronist government of Alberto, Cristina Fernández and Massa, leads to the confusion of millions who vote for the far right.
Whoever wins the runoff, with Izquierda Socialista and the FIT-U we will continue to face the greatest austerity and surrender to the IMF
We are already on the eve of the runoff. Hopefully, the debate in the FIT-U and with thousands who sympathise with the left —many voters of Myrian Bergman in the first round— and say No to Milei, and are preparing to vote with their noses covered for Massa, will help the leaderships of the PTS, PO and MST to reflect.
The important thing is that, as we said in our statement of 6 November: “whoever wins, there will follow a greater adjustment and surrender to the Monetary Fund, which we face from now on, postulating, as we did with the FIT-U, an opposite solution: the break with the IMF, non-payment of the debt, a workers’ and popular economic plan and a government of the workers together with the left.”
This is what is fundamental for Izquierda Socialista. Beyond the various electoral tactics that existed within the FIT-U, we have the firm conviction that the FIT-U will come out united, as has happened other times, to confront the government that emerges on 19 November, be it Massa or Milei.
In this sense, we reiterate what was stated in our statement of 6 November: “Regardless of how the vote against the far-right Milei is expressed on 19 November, the important thing is that we assume the commitment to continue promoting the workers’ and popular struggles in unity, to face the biggest adjustment that is coming, from the current government and the next. Izquierda Socialista in the FIT-U will promote greater unity to fight that fight, in the streets and Congress, fighting for a workers’ and socialist solution together with the Left Front. Calling to strengthen an independent political alternative of the workers and the left by building Izquierda Socialista and the FIT-U, the great tool of the unity of the left that we have conquered.”
17 November 2023