Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on October 30 defeated incumbent Jair Bolsonaro in an election that marked a stunning comeback for the leftist leader and the end of the country’s most right-wing government in decades.
Mr. Lula had 50.8% of votes compared with 49.2% for Mr. Bolsonaro with 99.1% of voting machines counted, which the Supreme Electoral Court said was enough to “mathematically define” the outcome of the race.
The vote was a rebuke for the fiery far-right populism of Mr. Bolsonaro, who emerged from the back benches of Congress to forge a novel conservative coalition but lost support as Brazil ran up one of the worst death tolls of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr. Lula called for “peace and unity” Sunday in bitterly divided Brazil, saying the country was no longer an international pariah, and highlighting the need for a “living Amazon”.
In his victory speech, Mr. Lula reached out to supporters and rivals alike, highlighting the need for “a Brazil of peace, democracy, and opportunity.”
He touched on gender and racial equality and the urgent need to deal with a hunger crisis affecting 33.1 million Brazilians.
“The wheel of the economy will turn again,” he promised.
‘Earth needs a living Amazon’
“It is in no one’s interest to live in a divided nation in a permanent state of war,” the 77-year-old said. “This country needs peace and unity. This population doesn’t want to fight anymore.”
“Today we tell the world that Brazil is back. It is too big to be banished to this sad role of global pariah.”
All eyes in western capitals have been on the outcome of the election, with the future of the Amazon rainforest and its impact on the global climate emergency at stake.
The issue took a backseat in an election dominated by personal attacks and economical concerns.
“Brazil is ready to take back its role in the fight against the climate crisis, protecting all of our biomes, especially the Amazon forest,” said Mr. Lula. “Brazil and the planet need a living Amazon.”
French President Emmanuel Macron congratulated Mr. Lula adding in a Twitter post that the two leaders would “renew ties of friendship between their countries”.
U.S. President Joe Biden on Sunday congratulated the Brazilian President-elect for his victory in “free, fair and credible elections,” in a statement adding that he looks forward to continued cooperation between the countries.
His victory consolidates a new “pink tide” in Latin America, after landmark leftist victories in Colombia and Chile’s elections, echoing a regional political shift two decades ago that introduced Mr. Lula to the world stage.
A former union leader born into poverty, Mr. Lula organized strikes against Brazil’s military government in the 1970s. His two-term presidency was marked by a commodity-driven economic boom and he left office with record popularity.
However, his Workers Party was later tarred by a deep recession and a record-breaking corruption scandal that jailed him for 19 months on bribery convictions, which were overturned by the Supreme Court last year.
In his third term, Mr. Lula will confront a sluggish economy, tighter budget constraints and a more hostile legislature. Mr. Bolsonaro’s allies form the largest bloc in Congress after this month’s general election revealed the enduring strength of his conservative coalition.
Mr. Bolsonaro has repeatedly made baseless claims of electoral fraud and last year openly discussed refusing to accept the results of the vote. Electoral authorities are bracing for him to dispute the outcome, sources told Reuters, including security preparations in case his supporters take to the streets.
Voting is electronic and the results were announced within two hours of polling stations closing at 5 p.m. (2000 GMT).
Mr. Lula will take office on January 1.
(With inputs from AFP)