Opinion – Helio Beltrão: New Party enters a new, less personalist phase

Opinion – Helio Beltrão: New Party enters a new, less personalist phase

With the departure, on Monday (6), of dissidents who represented half of the members of the national directory, the governance of the New Party begins a promising overcoming of a turbulent period of internal fights, mainly between the founder, João Amoêdo, and the representatives.

The legislative representatives of the Novo —eight federal deputies and a few dozen state deputies and councilors— have been instrumental in imparting a more liberal bias to Brazilian public policies. As a next step, the party – which governs Minas with Romeu Zema – intends to double the number of federal deputies and reach the barrier clause in this year’s elections, equipped with a nominate of 900 candidates and at least 6 candidates for governor.

It is a considerable challenge, as an election like the one in 2022 requires serene and continuous preparation for four years, which has not occurred due to internal conflicts. The good news is that tranquility is now tending to be restored and good governance has gained traction. The bad news is that there was considerable damage in the previous administration, which caused a great loss of members (from 47 thousand to 30 thousand), and now there is little time for the election.

The New faces a process similar to any family business that grows: to stop being a “company” —wholly dependent on its founder— to become a “company”.

A founder—who has the vision, initiative, and execution ability to generate profits— often feels that he alone knows what is best for the company. With growth, it is common for excessive focus on the founder, his obsession with control and his distrust of establishing effective processes, preventing the company from becoming large and ending up contributing to the bankruptcy statistics.

Although he had left the formal command of Novo in 2020 to dedicate himself to his pre-candidacy, Amoêdo remained with solid control of the national directory and held the cards in the party. But his pre-candidacy faced resistance from the ranks, did not prosper, and the excellent name of Luiz Felipe d’Avila emerged.

For the ruling moedista group, there should be a single, purist vision in the party: everyone should practice obsessive opposition to the government, regardless of whether the agenda in question is good or bad for the country. Imbued with such a dogmatic mission —incompatible with the fundamental precept of the party in defending the reduction of state intrusion—, its focus was to twist the arm of the representatives, seeking to command them centrally, as in a centralized company that issues memoranda linking line employees facing.

If in a company such logic is already destructive, in the case of a party it is much worse. The leaders and active members are volunteers, and the representatives are highly prepared, they are in the trenches of political negotiation and, unlike the leaders, they have the legitimacy of hundreds of thousands of votes. Robust political participation requires healthy decentralization.

The onslaught did not succeed, and so began the attempt to stop decisions and purge from the party the supposedly most disobedient, unfairly branded as Bolsonaristas, such as Governor Zema and the brilliant deputy Marcel van Hattem, among others.

Basically, there were two conflicting philosophies: a) everyone in the party should think like the leadership, even at the cost of remaining a small, niche party, and b) it is essential to allow a plurality of strands and a less personalized and centralized governance, a precondition for growth and to make more and more difference in public policies.

After a long conflict, which many times became public, the second vision won. This is good news for the country, and for liberalism.

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