Democratic Labour Party (Brazil)

The Democratic Labour Party (Portuguese: Partido Democrático Trabalhista, PDT) is a social-democratic political party in Brazil.

Democratic Labour Party
Partido Democrático Trabalhista
LeaderCiro Gomes
PresidentCarlos Lupi
Founded17 June 1979; 42 years ago (1979-06-17)
Preceded byBrazilian Labour Party
HeadquartersRua Sete de Setembro, 141, 4º andar, Centro, Rio de Janeiro
Think tankFundação Leonel Brizola-Alberto Pasqualini
Youth wingJuventude Socialista (JS-PDT)
Social democracy[2]
Left-wing nationalism[2]
Left-wing populism[2]
Political positionCentre-left[2]
Regional affiliationCOPPPAL
Foro de São Paulo
International affiliationSocialist International
Colours  Red
TSE Identification Number12
Federal Senate
3 / 81
Chamber of Deputies
26 / 513
1 / 27
State Assemblies
52 / 1,060
314 / 5,568
City Councillors
3,441 / 56,810
Mercosur Parliament
1 / 55
Party flag
PDT flag.gif


The Democratic Labour Party (PDT) was founded in 1979 by left-wing leader Leonel Brizola as an attempt to reorganise the Brazilian left-wing forces during the end of the Brazilian military dictatorship. Many of its members, including Brizola, had been active in the historical Brazilian Labour Party prior to the 1964 coup. Brizola originally wanted to reclaim the PTB name for his party, but the government awarded it to a more moderate grouping led by Ivete Vargas. The PDT joined the Socialist International in 1986. It was the major left-wing party in Brazil until the rise of the Workers' Party (PT) in 1994.

The Socialist Youth, founded in 1981, was originally called Labour Youth. Its name had been changed twice: in 1984, to Socialist Labour Youth, and then in 1985 to Socialist Youth. The intention was to support the group that defended the participation of the party in the Socialist International as well as the change of the party's name to Socialist Party. The latter never happened.

The best result of the party in a presidential election was reached by historical leader Brizola, with 17% of the votes in the first round of the 1989 presidential elections. However, Brizola lost to rival Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva by a margin of 0.5%, stopping him from facing the right-wing candidate, Fernando Collor de Mello, in the runoff.

In the 2002 legislative elections, the party won 21 out of the 513 seats of the Chamber of Deputies and 5 out of the 81 seats of the Senate. Its candidate also won the gubernatorial election in Amapá. Afterwards, it went into opposition to the federal government led by Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

In the local elections of October 2004, the party elected 300 mayors, 3252 city councilors, earning 5.5 million votes.

After the political crisis involving the government of Lula, the PDT has received the affiliation of several left-wing leaders from the president's party, the Workers' Party (PT), that disagree with the government policies, including the former Minister of Education, Cristovam Buarque. Cristovam faced president Lula in the first round of the 2006 National Elections, reaching 4th place (with 2.538.834 or 2.64% of the votes). At the legislative elections of October 1, 2006, the party experienced slight gains, winning 24 seats in the Chamber of Deputies. The PDT held onto the governorship of Amapá, and won a surprising victory in the gubernatorial election in Maranhão, which however was overturned due to electoral irregularities in 2009. At the 2010 elections, the PDT made gains in Parliament, winning 28 representatives, and it will have 4 Senate seats. It did not win any governorships, however, and only made it to one gubernatorial runoff, in Alagoas.

The PDT was the first party of president Dilma Rousseff (now in the PT). Although the PDT voted against the impeachment of Rousseff, six deputies voted in favor, resulting in the suspension of five deputies and the expulsion of the sixth, Giovani Cherini.[3]

In 2018, the party announced Ciro Gomes, former Minister of Finance (1994-1995) and governor from the state of Ceará (1991-1994), to run for the presidency, receiving 12.47% of the votes in the first round,[4] the second highest by a PDT candidate, second only to Leonel Brizola's bid, in 1989.[5] Despite being against the winner of the first round, and the eventual president elected, Jair Bolsonaro, he did not formally endorse Fernando Haddad.[6]


The PDT combines a pro-labour and social-democratic orientation with nationalism and elements of democratic socialism. Apart from a small truce in 1998, the PT and PDT had a rivalry for more than 20 years for the leadership of Brazilian left. The PDT eventually lost the battle and became an ally of the PT on the national level. The alliance, however, was always uneasy; the party always had a strong dissident wing led by the former Federal District governor, former petista and senator for the Federal District Cristovam Buarque. This internal movement was always ousted and disenfranchised by the national chairman of the party, Carlos Lupi, who was always loyal to the PT government. However, many dissidents left the PDT for other parties, such as the Brazilian Socialist Party, Popular Socialist Party, Brazilian Social Democracy Party or Socialism and Liberty Party.

With the arrival of Ciro Gomes and the crisis within the PT, PDT sought to regain the leadership of the left in the post-2014 elections. The move was partially successful: the PDT made significant gains in the municipal elections of 2016 and won more mayoral races than any party of the left apart from the PSB, while PT's own seats fell by 60%.[7] Ciro Gomes, despite having a comparatively much smaller campaign and multiple deals on PT's part to sway other parties, mainly PSB, away from PDT,[7] managed to finish in third place. In the runoff, Fernando Haddad, supported by former President Lula, then in jail, expected support from Ciro but this was ignored, and PDT instead assumed a position of neutrality. In 2019, PDT kept struggling with PT for leadership of the left. It expects to make significant gains in 2020 as it forms new alliances with dissatisfied centre-left and centrist parties.[7]


The party is organised in state and municipal directories and also in cooperational social movements, such as the Black Movement, the Labour Woman Association, the Labour Syndicate Union, the Socialist Youth and the Green Labour Movement. Its national directory is composed of over 250 members, while its national executive is composed of 21 members. The cooperational social movements have their own statutes and nationwide organisation

Electoral resultsEdit

Presidential electionsEdit

Election Candidate Running mate Coalition First round Second round Result
Votes % Votes %
1989 Leonel Brizola (PDT) Fernando Lyra (PDT) None 11,168,228 16.51% (#3) - - Lost  N
1994 Darcy Ribeiro (PDT) PDT; PMN 2,015,836 3.19% (#5) - - Lost  N
1998 Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) Leonel Brizola (PDT) PT; PDT; PSB; PCdoB; PCB 21,475,211 31.71% (#2) - - Lost  N
2002 Ciro Gomes (PPS) Paulinho da Força (PTB) PPS; PTB; PDT 10,170,882 11.97% (#4) - - Lost  N
2006 Cristovam Buarque (PDT) Jefferson Péres (PDT) None 2,538,844 2,64% (#4) - - Lost  N
2010 Dilma Rousseff (PT) Michel Temer (PMDB) PT; PMDB; PR; PSB; PDT; PCdoB; PSC; PRB; PTC; PTN 47,651,434 46.9% (#1) 55,752,529 56.1% (#1) Elected  Y
2014 PT; PMDB; PSD; PP; PR; PDT; PRB; PROS; PCdoB 43,267,668 41.6% (#1) 54,501,118 51.6% (#1) Elected  Y
2018 Ciro Gomes (PDT) Kátia Abreu (PDT) PDT; AVANTE 13,334,371 12,47% (#3) - - Lost  N
Source: Election Resources: Federal Elections in Brazil – Results Lookup

Important party leadersEdit


  1. ^[permanent dead link]:::
  2. ^ a b c d e Mainwaring, Scott P. (1999), Rethinking Party Systems in the Third Wave of Democratization: The Case of Brazil, Stanford University Press, p. 91
  3. ^ "PDT expulsa deputado e suspende outros cinco que votaram pelo impeachment". Congresso em Foco. 2016-05-11.
  4. ^ "Eleicões 2018 | Apuração 1º turno". Estadão Política.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2019-01-03. Retrieved 2019-01-05.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2019-01-03. Retrieved 2019-01-05.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ a b c "PMDB e PSDB são os partidos com mais candidatos nas eleições 2016". O Globo (in Brazilian Portuguese). 2016-08-16. Retrieved 2020-01-26.

External linksEdit

Preceded by Numbers of Brazilian Official Political Parties
12 - DLP (PDT)
Succeeded by