Rio de Janeiro:
Veteran leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva won a new term as Brazil’s president on Sunday, capping a notable political comeback by defeating far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro in a deeply divisive runoff.
All eyes will now be on how Bolsonaro and his supporters react to the official result after months of claiming – without evidence – that Brazil’s electronic voting system is riddled with fraud and that the courts, media and other institutions are conspiring against his party have – correct movement.
The victory marks an impressive turning point for former metalworker Lula: he left office in 2010 as the most popular president in Brazilian history, fell out of favor after being jailed for 18 months on controversial corruption charges that have since been overturned, and is now returning for one unprecedented third term at age 77.
Bolsonaro, the scathing hardline conservative dubbed “Tropical Trump,” is now the first incumbent president not to win re-election since Brazil returned to democracy at the end of its 1964-1985 military dictatorship.
Election officials declared the choice for Lula, who had 51 percent of the vote versus 49 percent for Bolsonaro, with more than 99 percent of polling stations reporting so.
– ‘Restore Peace’ –
Dressed in the red of Lula’s Workers’ Party (PT), supporters exploded in cities across the country, setting off colorful fireworks in Rio de Janeiro and erupting in huge cheers in Sao Paulo.
Greeting euphoric supporters in the business hub of Sao Paulo, a grinning Lula tweeted a single word: “democracy” alongside an image of the Brazilian flag.
In tears, meanwhile, Bolsonaro supporters fell to their knees outside the government seat in the capital, Brasilia, to the green and yellow of the flag the ex-army captain has made his own, to pray for a reversal.
Bolsonaro stormed to victory four years ago on a wave of political outrage as usual, but came under fire in polarizing style for his disastrous handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 680,000 in Brazil, and a struggling economy and attacks on democratic institutions.
Many fear a Brazilian repeat of the Capitol riots that rocked the United States following the 2020 electoral defeat of Bolsonaro’s political idol Donald Trump.
Regardless of how Bolsonaro reacts, Lula will face major challenges from the day of his inauguration on January 1.
Bolsonaro’s far-right allies scored big victories in the legislative and gubernatorial elections in the first round on Oct. 2 and will be the strongest force in Congress.
After the vote in Sao Bernardo do Campo, the southeastern city where he rose to prominence as a union leader, Lula said he would work to heal the wounds left by the polarization campaign.
“One of the dreams that made me run in this election was to restore peace among Brazilians,” he told journalists, dressed in a white shirt and surrounded by allies dressed in white.
The campaign descended into an orgy of mudslinging, aggressive advertising and disinformation, particularly on the all-important battleground of social media.
– Huge Challenges –
The filth left little room for real issues like the economy, the rampant destruction of the Amazon rainforest and the 33 million starving Brazilians.
Lula inherits a deeply divided country with a tremendously troubled global economy that looks nothing like the commodities “super cycle” that allowed it to lead Latin America’s largest economy through a turning point boom in the 2000s.
Lula’s victory is “one of the greatest comebacks in modern political history,” tweeted Americas Quarterly editor-in-chief Brian Winter.
But the charismatic but ailing left-wing icon will also have “a weak government,” Winter told AFP.
The result heralds “an attempt to turn the clock back to the 2000s,” he said.
“The problem is that you can’t repeat the past. Brazil has a very strong, resurgent conservative movement. Lula will be under scrutiny from day one and face a hostile Congress.”
None of this mattered to the enthusiastic Lula supporters for the time being.
“Brazil is back on its feet after four years of darkness. We had so many problems, so much fear,” Larissa Meneses, a 34-year-old developer, told AFP at a joyful victory celebration in Sao Paulo.
“Now with Lula’s win, I really think things are getting better. This is a day of laughter.”
(This story was not edited by TOI.News staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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