Lula Makes A Stunning Return; Bolsonaro Becomes First Brazilian President To Fail To Get Re-elected
Brazil’s outgoing president Jair Bolsonaro has one more thing in common with Donald Trump — both have failed to get reelected, becoming single-term presidents. Far-right incumbent Bolsonaro lost via a hairline margin against the leftist champion, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
Lula secured 50.9% of the vote, while Bolsonaro received 49.10%. In Brazil, a candidate needs to achieve a majority or over 50% of the votes to win a presidential election. The two faced each other in a run-off on October 30, coming from the first round on October 2 where Lula had a slightly wider lead at 48.4% versus 43.2%, but failed to reach a majority.
The former leftist president returns for a third term as the 39th president of Brazil. He first sat in office as the 35th president from 2003 to 2010. A former factory worker, he was also the country’s first working-class leader.
But his leadership was plagued by controversy and allegations of corruption. He was found guilty of receiving a bribe from a Brazilian construction firm in return for contracts with Brazil’s state oil company Petrobras, jailed, and eventually disqualified from the 2018 presidential election that Bolsonaro won.
After spending 580 days in jail, the Supreme Federal Court later annulled all convictions on March 8, 2021, ruling that the Curitiba court that convicted him lacked jurisdiction. This decision was upheld by the Supreme Court with an 8-3 vote the following month.
“They tried to bury me alive and here I am,” he said, talking to reporters at a São Paulo hotel on Sunday evening. Lula vowed to bring together a divided Brazil.
“I will govern for 215 million Brazilians … and not just for those who voted for me. There are not two Brazils. We are one country, one people — a great nation,” he said. “It is in nobody’s interests to live in a country that is divided and in a constant state of war.”
Lula’s campaign leaned heavily on restoring democracy and protecting the Amazon — two aspects of Brazil that have taken almost irreparable damage during Bolsonaro’s leadership.
Lula’s win also marks Brazil joining the resurgence of leftist parties in Latin America. Colombia’s Gustavo Petro, Argentina’s Alberto Fernández, and Chile’s Gabrial Boric all tweeted their congratulations, with President Fernández welcoming “an era of hope and of a future that starts right now.”
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