Lula wins Brazil election in political resurrection for leftist

SAO PAULO/BRASIL, Oct 31 (Reuters) – Brazilian leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva narrowly defeated President Jair Bolsonaro in a runoff election, but the far-right incumbent did not concede defeat until Monday morning, raising fears he could dispute the result.

Tens of thousands of jubilant supporters took to the streets of Sao Paulo to celebrate the stunning return of the 77-year-old former metallurgist, who after his previous two terms as president from 2003-2010 served prison terms on corruption convictions that were later overturned.

Bolsonaro is the first Brazilian president to lose a presidential election, and Lula has vowed to reverse his legacy, including gun policies and lax protection of the Amazon rainforest.

Casting the race as a battle for democracy after his opponent made baseless claims that the electoral system was open to fraud, Lula called the election a sign that Brazilians “want more, not less, democracy,” in a victory speech that celebrated the which he called his “resurrection.” He promised to unite a deeply divided country.

“I will govern on behalf of 215 million Brazilians, not just on behalf of 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.”

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The Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) announced that Lula won 50.9% of the vote to Bolsonaro’s 49.1%. Lula’s inauguration is scheduled for January 1.

Elections in Brazil Lula wins the elections in Brazil

The result in Latin America’s largest nation means the left will rule all major economies in the region after a string of electoral successes from Mexico to Argentina in recent years.

A Bolsonaro campaign source told Reuters the president would not make public remarks until Monday. Bolsonaro’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

“So far, Bolsonaro has not called me to recognize my victory, and I don’t know if he will or if he will recognize my victory,” Lula told supporters on Sao Paulo’s Paulista Avenue.

In contrast to Bolsonaro’s silence, congratulations poured in for Lula from foreign leaders, including US President Joe Biden, Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Biden congratulated Lula for winning “free, fair and credible elections,” joining a chorus of compliments from European and Latin American leaders.

Markets are bracing for a volatile week ahead, with Brazil’s real currency and international Brazilian stock listings falling as investors weigh speculation about Lula’s cabinet and the risk Bolsonaro could question the results.

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One close Bolsonaro ally, lawmaker Carla Zambelli, in an apparent nod to the results, tweeted: “I PROMISE you, I will be the biggest opposition Lula has ever imagined.”

The vote was a rebuke to the fiery far-right populism of Bolsonaro, who emerged from the backbenches of Congress to form a conservative coalition but lost support as Brazil recorded one of the worst death tolls of the coronavirus pandemic.

International election observers said Sunday’s election was conducted effectively. One observer told Reuters that military auditors had not found any flaws in the integrity tests they conducted of the voting system.

Truck drivers believed to be Bolsonaro supporters blocked a highway in four places on Sunday in Mato Grosso state, a major grain producer, according to the highway operator.

In one video circulated online, a man said truck drivers planned to block major highways, calling for a military coup to prevent Lula from taking office.


Lula’s victory consolidates a new “pink tide” in Latin America after landmark leftist victories in elections in Colombia and Chile, reflecting a regional political shift two decades ago that put Lula on the world stage.

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He promised a return to the state-led economic growth and social policies that helped lift millions out of poverty during two presidential terms from 2003 to 2010. He also promised to fight the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. which are now at a 15-year high, and make Brazil a leader in global climate negotiations.

“It was four years of hatred, of denying science,” Ana Valeria Doria, a 60-year-old doctor in Rio de Janeiro, who 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’s two-term presidency was marked by a commodity-driven economic boom, and he left office with record popularity.

However, his Workers’ Party was later hit by a deep recession and a record-breaking corruption scandal that jailed him for 19 months on bribery convictions that were overturned by the High Court last year.

Reporting by Anthony Bowdle and Ricardo Brito in Brazil, Brian Ellsworth and Lisandra Paraguasu in Sao Paulo; Written by Frank Jack Daniel, edited by Brad Haynes, Lincoln Feist, Nick McPhee and Angus McSwan

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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