Heloísa Helena (politician)
A trained nurse, Helena helped found the Center of Health at the Federal University of Alagoas. She was also involved in the student movements against the military dictatorship. She became a member of the left-wing Workers' Party (PT) and a leader of Socialist Democracy, a Trotskyist caucus in PT.
In 1992, Helena was chosen as deputy mayor of Maceió as part of the PT-PSB coalition government. In 1994, she was elected as a councilwoman in Alagoas and in 1998 was elected to the Federal Senate. After PT's Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva won the presidency in 2002, Heloísa became one of the strongest critics of the new government's alignment with centrist politics. After voting against the party recommendation in the Senate, she was expelled from PT in December 2003 for allegedly breaking party discipline. She kept her seat in the Senate as an Independent politician.
Following her expulsion, Helena and other dissident members of PT founded a new party, the Socialism and Freedom Party (PSOL) in late 2004. She was the president of PSOL from 2004 to 2010, in addition to leading the Freedom and Revolution faction of the party. Helena was PSOL's candidate for president in the 2006 general elections. She had 6% of the voting, obtaining almost 6.6 million votes. During the following election, she was elected a councilwoman for Maceió, becoming the top voted candidate in the Alagoas state after achieving almost 30,000 votes.
On October 20, 2010, it was announced by the media that Heloísa had left the presidency of PSOL. The councilwoman and former senator said she decided to departure from the national presidency of the party because of its support to Workers' Party presidential candidate Dilma Rousseff during the second round of the 2010 election. (In reality, the PSOL only declared "critical support" of Rousseff, stating that it only chose to do so in order to secure the defeat of "right-wing" cadidate José Serra in the general elections, and that it would continue to oppose the centrist PT government; many members of the party, including defeated presidential candidate Plínio de Arruda Sampaio, chose to annul their vote, refusing to support Rousseff.) In the press release, Helena made it clear that she will continue on PSOL.
At the same election, Helena unsuccessfully ran for a seat in the Senate for Alagoas. Despite leading the polls for a considerable amount of time, she got 417,636 votes (16.6% of the total), finishing the race in third, behind Benedito de Lira and Renan Calheiros.