Brazil Got New President

Sao Paulo: Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva barely defeated President Jair Bolsonaro in a spillover election on Sunday that marked a stunning comeback for the leftist former president and the end of Brazil’s most right-wing government in decades.

Brazil’s Supreme Electoral Court announced Lula as the next president, with 50.9% of votes versus 49.1% for Bolsonaro. The newly elected president Lula’s inauguration is scheduled for Jan. 1.

The vote was a reproach for the searing far-right populism of 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 most terrible death tolls of the coronavirus pandemic.

Bolsonaro remained quiet on Sunday night after the results were announced and some of his allies publicly acknowledged his defeat, defying assumptions that he might immediately challenge the narrow result after making baseless claims of fraud in previous elections.

Lula said in his discourse that he would unite a divided country and ensure that Brazilians “put down arms that never should have been taken up,” while inviting international cooperation to preserve the Amazon rainforest and make global trade fairer.

“I will govern for 215 million Brazilians, and not just for those who voted for me,” Lula said at his campaign headquarters. “There are not two Brazils. We are one country, one people, one great nation.”

Lula arrived at a rally in Sao Paulo shortly after 8:00 p.m. (1100 GMT), waving from the sunroof of a car. Ecstatic allies near Paulista Avenue waited for him, chanting slogans and drinking champagne.

Vice President-elect Geraldo Alckmin and campaign aides jumped up and down chanting, “It’s time Jair, it’s time to leave already,” in a video circulating on social media. Last year, Bolsonaro, 67, openly discussed refusing to accept the results of the vote. A senior Bolsonaro campaign aide, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he would not make a speech on Sunday. The Bolsonaro campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

One close Bolsonaro ally, lawmaker Carla Zambelli, in an apparent nod to Lula’s victory wrote on Twitter, “I PROMISE you, I will be the greatest opposition that Lula has ever imagined.”

Electoral authorities are bracing for him to dispute the outcome, sources told the media and made security preparations in case his supporters stage protests. U.S. President Joe Biden congratulated Lula for winning “free, fair and credible elections,” joining a chorus of compliments from European and Latin American leaders.

His triumph 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 Lula to the world stage.

Lula promised a return to state-driven economic growth and social policies that helped lift millions out of poverty when he was previously president from 2003 to 2010. He also promises to combat the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, now at a 15-year high, and make Brazil a leader in global climate talks.

“These were four years of hatred of negation of science,” Ana Valeria Doria, 60, a doctor in Rio de Janeiro celebrated with a drink. “It won’t be easy for Lula to manage the division in this country. But for now, it’s pure happiness.”

A former union leader born into poverty, 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, Lula will face a sluggish economy, tighter budget constraints, and a more hostile legislature.

Bolsonaro’s allies form the biggest alliance in Congress after this month’s general election and won the races for governor in Brazil’s three most financially strong states, highlighting the enduring strength of his conservative coalition.

By Archana

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