SAO PAULO/BRASILIA, Oct 31 (Reuters) – Brazil’s leftist leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva narrowly defeated President Jair Bolsonaro in a runoff election, but the far-right incumbent had not conceded defeat by morning. Photo, raising concerns that he could challenge 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 metal worker who, following his previous two-term presidency from 2003-2010, had spent time in prison for corruption convictions revoked later. .
Bolsonaro is the first Brazilian incumbent to lose a presidential election and Lula has vowed to reverse his legacy, including pro-gun policies and weak protection of the Amazon rainforest.
Pitching the contest as a fight 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 and not less democracy,” in a victory speech that he celebrated what he called a “resurrection.” He promised to unite a very divided country.
“I will govern for 215 million Brazilians, and not only 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.”
The Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) announced that Lula won 50.9% of the votes, against 49.1% for Bolsonaro. Lula’s inauguration is scheduled for January 1.
The result in Latin America’s largest nation means that the left will govern all the major economies of the region after a series of electoral successes from Mexico to Argentina in recent years.
A source in Bolsonaro’s campaign told Reuters the president would not make public comments 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 call or if he will recognize my victory,” Lula told supporters on Sao Paulo’s Paulista Avenue.
In contrast to Bolsonaro’s silence, congratulations to 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 the chorus of praise from European and Latin American leaders.
Markets were bracing for a volatile week ahead, with Brazil’s real currency and international listings of Brazilian stocks falling as investors gauged speculation about Lula’s cabinet and the risk of the consequences of questioning Bolsonaro.
One close ally of Bolsonaro, lawmaker Carla Zambelli, in an apparent nod to the results, wrote on Twitter, “I PROMISE you, I will be the greatest opposition that 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 ran up one of the worst death tolls of the coronavirus pandemic.
International election observers said Sunday’s election was conducted efficiently. One observer told Reuters that military auditors found no flaws in integrity tests they conducted of the voting system.
Truck drivers believed to be Bolsonaro supporters on Sunday blocked a highway in four places in Mato Grosso state, a major grain producer, according to the highway operator.
In one video circulating online, a man said truckers planned to block highways, calling for a military coup to prevent Lula from taking office.
PINK TIDE RISING
Lula’s victory reinforces a new “pink tide” in Latin America, after notable leftist victories in the Colombian and Chilean elections, echoing a regional political shift two decades ago that introduced Lula to the world stage.
He has promised a return to state-driven economic growth and social policies that helped lift millions out of poverty during two terms as president from 2003 to 2010. He also promises to fight the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, which is now higher than 15 years, and make Brazil a leader in global climate negotiations.
“These were four years of hatred, of science denial,” said Ana Valeria Doria, 60, a doctor in Rio de Janeiro who celebrated with 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 rocked by a deep recession and a record-breaking corruption scandal that saw him jailed for 19 months on bribery convictions, which were overturned by the Supreme Court last year.
Reporting by Anthony Boadle and Ricardo Brito in Brasilia, Brian Ellsworth and Lisandra Paraguassu in Sao Paulo; Writing by Frank Jack Daniel, Editing by Brad Haynes, Lincoln Feast, Nick Macfie and Angus MacSwan
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