Luis Inacio Lula da Silva will be Brazil’s next president after narrowly defeating right-wing rival incumbent Bolsonaro.
The left-wing former leader, widely known as “Lula,” won 50.90 percent of the vote, with more than 99 percent counted in Sunday’s hotly contested runoff.
Bolsonaro, with 49.10% of the vote, will be denied re-election.
Lula da Silva’s supporters gathered on Paulista Avenue in Sao Paulo on Sunday night after the polls closed. Even before the result was announced, the atmosphere was already celebrating, with flares lit when he was declared the winner by the country’s electoral authorities.
According to CNN, there were tears in the eyes of many, hopeful for a country that has been suffering from high inflation, limited growth and rising poverty.
But others on Paulista Avenue expressed fear. Lula da Silva’s slim edge has sparked fears that Bolsonaro will not accept defeat, who has repeatedly claimed Brazil’s electronic voting system is vulnerable to fraud. The totally unfounded allegations have been compared to former US President Donald Trump’s false election claims.
Lula da Silva addressed supporters on Sunday night, thanking all Brazilians. “Those who voted for me, those who voted for opponents, those who voted, those who agreed to fulfill the civilized promise of citizenship, I would like to congratulate you,” he said, according to Brazil’s CNN.
“And, most importantly, I want to congratulate those who voted for me because I consider myself a citizen who has gone through a resurrection process in Brazilian politics because they tried to bury me alive and here I am,” he added .
Lula da Silva and Bolsonaro had previously gone head-to-head in the first round of voting on October 2, but neither received more than half of the votes, forcing Sunday’s vote. vote, which became a referendum on two very different visions for Brazil.
The elections take place in a tense and polarized political climate in Brazil.
Both candidates have used the election to attack each other at every turn, with growing anger overshadowing the polls and clashes between their supporters leaving many voters terrified of what’s to come. Voters in São Paulo told CNN they are eager to end the election season as soon as possible so the country can move on.
While there were no reports of political violence on Sunday, Lula da Silva’s allies accused the police of preventing buses and cars carrying Lula voters from going to polling places. However, the Higher Electoral Court (TSE), which is in charge of Brazil’s elections, said no one was blocked from voting and refused to extend the polls, Reuters reported. It added that the Federal Highway Police said they had complied with the court order.
Lula da Silva served two terms as president, from 2003 to 2006 and 2007 to 2011, during which time he led the country through a commodity boom, helped fund a massive social welfare program, and Millions were lifted out of poverty.
He left office with a 90 percent approval rating — a record tarnished by Brazil’s largest corruption probe, dubbed Operation Car Wash, which has led to charges against hundreds of high-ranking politicians and businessmen in Latin America. He was convicted of corruption and money laundering in 2017, but a court threw out his conviction in March 2021, clearing the way for his political backlash.
Bolsonaro ran for his first presidency with the conservative Liberals in 2018 as a political outsider and anti-corruption candidate, earning the nickname “Trump of the Tropics.” A divisive figure, Bolsonaro is known for his bombastic rhetoric and conservative agenda, backed by the country’s key evangelical leaders.
During his re-election campaign, Bolsonaro appealed to supporters for moral values and a sense of national unity, and called his leftist opponent a “communist threat”. Adopting the slogan “God, Country, Family and Freedom”, his campaign promises a stronger version in his first term: tax cuts, pro-farm policies, fewer environmental rules and a continuation of his Auxilio Brasil to the poorest people pay benefits.
But poverty has worsened during his presidency, and his popularity has been hit by his handling of the pandemic, which he dismissed as a “little flu” before it killed more than 680,000 people in the country. “.
Environmentalists have also warned that the election could jeopardize the future of the rainforest, as Bolsonaro’s government, known for its support for relentless development of Amazonian lands, has led to record deforestation figures.
World leaders congratulated Lula da Silva on his victory.
U.S. President Joe Biden called the election “free, fair and credible” and said he looked forward to “continuing to work together and continue the cooperation between our two countries in the months and years ahead.”
Regional leaders described his victory as a “moment of hope”.
“Your victory opens a new era in Latin American history. An era of hope and future that begins today. Here, you have a partner to work with,” Argentine President Alberto Fernández tweeted. cooperation and dream big for a better life for our people.
French President Emmanuel Macron described it as “a new chapter in Brazil’s history. Together we will tackle many common challenges and revive the bonds of friendship between our two countries.”
More than 156 million people are eligible to vote in this year’s election. The candidates themselves voted early on Sunday, with Lula voting at a public school in the São Paulo metropolitan area and Bolsonaro voting Sunday morning in Rio de Janeiro.