Former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva won the runoff presidential election in Brazil on Sunday with 50.9% compared to 49.1% obtained by the current president, Jair Bolsonaro, with 99.9% of the ballot boxes counted by the Superior Electoral Council (TSE).
The leader of the Workers’ Party (PT), who governed between 2003 and 2010, will again occupy the Presidency of an extremely divided Brazil as of January 1, 2023, for a 4-year term.
Lula obtained 60.3 million votes, while Bolsonaro, a retired Army captain and leader of the Brazilian extreme right, received 58.2 million, according to data from the TSE.
The emotion as the vote counting progressed was maintained until the last moment in what was the closest election in the country’s history.
The vote was closer than the polls, prior to the elections predicted, a reflection of the high polarization that Brazil is experiencing and that even led to episodes of political violence during the campaign.
As the voting results began to come in, Bolsonaro had an advantage of 14 percentage points and was only surpassed by Lula with just over 67% of the ballots tallied, when the votes of small cities and peripheral regions began to be counted.
Just like in the first round, Lula, the favorite in the polls, remained in second place for much of the vote count and only took the lead when the percentage of votes counted exceeded 70%.
Lula won the first round, on October 2nd, with 48.4% of the valid votes, but, as he did not obtain more than half of the votes, he had to face Bolsonaro (45.2%) in a runoff this Sunday.
With his victory, Lula, 77, will once again command the largest economy in Latin America.
During the campaign he promised to “rebuild” from Bolsonaro’s Brazil, end hunger, which today affects some 33 million Brazilians, and “place the poor in the State budgets”, combining social, fiscal and environmental responsibility.
He also anticipated that he would be in power for a single term, which in Brazil is four years.
Lula’s victory was unthinkable a few years ago due to the multiple corruption cases he had to face, but in 2021 the Supreme Court annulled the sentences that made him spend 580 days in prison, thus recovering his political rights.
Latin American left celebrates
With a brief “Viva Lula”, the Colombian president, Gustavo Petro, rushed, even before the vote was over, to celebrate the victory of the progressive leader and the return of the left to power.
Petro, close to Lula, thus echoed the trade unionist’s return to the Presidency of Brazil. Lula was, together with the Chilean Gabriel Boric and the Mexican Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the pillars on which Petro hopes to build a new Latin American unity bloc.
For her part, Colombia’s VP Francia Márquez, who is also close to Lula, with whom she met after being elected last July, sent him her “ancestral hug” together with her congratulations.
“May wisdom accompany you in this new stage directing the destinies of this sister nation,” the Afro-Colombian vice president wished.
Similarly, the president of Argentina, Alberto Fernández, affirmed when congratulating Lula on his victory that “a time of hope and future” begins in Latin America.
“Congratulations @LulaOficial! Your victory opens a new time for the history of Latin America. A time of hope and future that begins today. Here you have a partner to work with and dream big about the good life of our peoples,” the Argentine president wrote on his Twitter account.
Argentina’s Vice President, Cristina Fernández, also thanked Brazil’s president elect for returning “joy and hope” to the region with his victory.
“Today more than ever, love and much happiness. Thank you people of Brazil. Thank you, comrade Lula, for returning joy and hope to our South America,” wrote the former president (2007-2015) on her Twitter account after knowing the results of the TSE.
Sanchez and Macron congratulate Lula
Spain’s president, Pedro Ssnchez, congratulated Lula da Silva on his victory in the runoff presidential elections in Brazil.
“Congratulations, @LulaOficial, for your victory in these elections in which Brazil has decided to bet on progress and hope,” said Sanchez in his tweet.
“Let us work together for social justice, equality and against climate change. Your successes will be those of the Brazilian people. Parabéns, Lula!” added the Spanish socialist leader.
Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, joined in the congratulations. “Congratulations, dear Lula, for your election that begins a new chapter in the history of Brazil. Together we will join our forces to face the many common challenges and renew the bond of friendship between our two countries,” Macron said on Twitter.
Macron maintained tense relations with Bolsonaro due to his ideological differences with the leader of the extreme right, and also due to the environmental policies of the Brazilian president.
Due to the increase in deforestation in the Amazon and the lack of environmental guarantees, France is one of the countries that has blocked the ratification of the agreement between Mercosur and the European Union.