The president-elect calls his political comeback a “victory of democracy”.
Former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has clinched victory over his right-wing rival Jair Bolsonaro in a tightly contested second round of Brazilian election on Sunday. The country’s election authority announced Lula’s victory with 50,90% of the vote to Bolsonaro’s 49.10%.
“This isn’t a victory of mine or the Workers’ Party… It’s the victory of a democratic movement that formed above political parties, personal interests and ideologies so that democracy came out victorious,” Lula told a cheering crowd of supporters in Sao Paulo on Sunday night.
The president-elect acknowledged that following such a tight race a challenge to his future mandate will be “immense,” and stressed that “it is necessary to rebuild the very soul of this country, recover generosity, solidarity, respect for differences and love for others.”
Lula, who is set to take office on 1 January 2023, promised to be a president for all 215 millions of Brazilians, not just those who voted for him. “There are no two Brazils. We are one country, one people – a great nation.”
Bolsonaro has yet to publicly concede his defeat. The incumbent repeatedly warned during his campaing that he will contest the results if he loses by a small margin, calling into question the reliability of Brazil’s electronic voting system.
After polls closed nationwide at 5pm local time (8pm GMT), initial results showed Bolsonaro ahead. However, just as in the first round of voting his lead eventually narrowed as more votes from da Silva’s strongholds were counted. In the first round on October 2, da Silva received over 48% of the vote, which was not enough to claim immediate victory.
Lula da Silva, who represents Brazil’s Workers’ Party, has focused his campaign on overcoming social inequality and alleviating poverty. Among the measures he proposes are raising taxes on the rich, widening the social safety net, and increasing the minimum wage.
Bolsonaro’s campaign slogan has been ‘God, family, homeland, and liberty’. His vision of Brazil’s future includes privatizing the country’s state-owned oil company, opening the Amazon region to more mining, and easing gun regulations.
In the run-up to the showdown, the rivals repeatedly traded insults during campaign events. In a televised debate on October 17, Lula called Bolsonaro a “tiny little dictator” and pledged to defend freedom and democracy. The incumbent fired back, calling Lula “a national embarrassment,” due to the corruption scandals that took place when Lula’s Workers’ Party (PT) was in power.
Lula, who governed Brazil from 2003 to 2010, was barred from running for president in 2018 after being jailed on corruption charges that were later overturned.