Brazil’s Bolsonaro loses his candidacy for a second term in a hotly contested presidential vote


Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is set to become Brazil’s next president, after defeating his right-wing rival, incumbent Jair Bolsonaro, by a razor-thin margin in a fiercely contested runoff election.

The former leftist leader, known as “Lula”, received more than 60 million votes, the most in Brazil’s history, beating his own record set in 2006.

But despite the huge turnout of his supporters, his victory was by a narrow margin: according to Brazil’s electoral authority, Lula da Silva got 50.90% of the vote and Bolsonaro received 49.10%, denying him a second term.

Lula’s supporters thronged São Paulo’s Avenida Paulista on Sunday evening after the polls closed. The mood was celebratory even before the results were announced, with people shooting flares when he was declared the winner by the country’s election authority.

Many had tears in their eyes and told CNN they had hope for the country, which has been struggling with high inflation, limited growth and rising poverty.

Supporters of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva react as they await the results on Avenida Paulista, Sao Paulo.

But others on Paulista Avenue expressed fears. Lula da Silva’s slim margin has raised concerns that Bolsonaro will not accept defeat, having repeatedly claimed that Brazil’s electronic voting system is susceptible to fraud. The completely unfounded accusation has drawn comparisons to former US President Donald Trump’s false election claims.

Hours after the results were announced, Bolsonaro had not yet acknowledged defeat or made any public statement. Meanwhile, videos on social media showed his supporters blocking roads in two states to protest Lula da Silva’s victory.

“We will only leave when the army takes control of the country,” an unidentified Bolsonaro supporter said in a video taken in the southern state of Santa Catarina.

Speaking to supporters on Sunday evening, Lula da Silva thanked all Brazilians. “The people who voted for me, the people who voted for the opponent, who went to vote, who agreed to fulfill their civilizing commitment of citizenship, I want to congratulate you,” he said, CNN Brasil reported .

Lula da Silva's supporters gathered on Avenida Paulista in São Paulo on Sunday evening.

“And above all, I want to congratulate the people who voted for me because I consider myself a citizen who had a resurrection process in Brazilian politics because they tried to bury me alive and I’m here,” he added.

Lula da Silva and Bolsonaro had previously faced off in a first round of voting on October 2, but neither got more than half of the vote, forcing a second round on Sunday, which was turn into a referendum on two totally different visions for Brazil.

The election took place amid a tense and polarized political climate in Brazil.

The mood was somber among Bolsonaro's supporters.

Both candidates had used this election to attack each other at every turn, and growing anger has eclipsed the polls and infighting among their supporters has left many voters fearful of what’s to come. Voters in Sao Paulo told CNN they were ready to end this election season as soon as possible so the country can move on.

While there were no reports of political violence on Sunday, Lula da Silva’s allies accused police of blocking buses and cars carrying Lula voters to polling stations. However, the Superior Electoral Court (TSE), which runs Brazil’s elections, said no one had been prevented from voting and refused to extend voting hours, Reuters reports. The Federal Highway Police said they had complied with court orders, he added.

A supporter of Lula da Silva waves a flag on Avenida Paulista in São Paulo on Sunday.

Lula da Silva served as president for two terms, from 2003 to 2006 and from 2007 to 2011, where he led the country through a commodity boom that helped fund large social welfare programs and lifted millions from of poverty

He left office with a 90 percent approval rating, a record broken by Brazil’s biggest corruption investigation, dubbed “Operation Car Wash,” which led to charges against hundreds of high-ranking politicians and businessmen of Latin America. He was convicted of corruption and money laundering in 2017, but a court overturned his conviction in March 2021, paving the way for his political comeback.

Bolsonaro ran for his first term as president in 2018 with the conservative Liberal Party, campaigning as an outsider and anti-corruption candidate, earning the nickname “Trump of the tropics.” A divisive figure, Bolsonaro has become known for his bombastic statements and conservative agenda, which has the support of important evangelical leaders in the country.

During his re-election bid, Bolsonaro appealed to supporters’ moral values ​​and sense of national unity, labeling his left-wing adversary as “the communist threat”. His campaign, which adopted the slogan “God, Nation, Family and Liberty,” promised a stepped-up version of his first term: tax cuts, policies that would support the agricultural industry, reduced environmental regulations and the continuation of the headquarters of Auxilio Brasil. social payments to the poorest.

But poverty has grown during his presidency and his popularity levels have had an impact on his handling of the pandemic, which he dismissed as the “little flu”, before the virus killed more than 680,000 people in the country.

Environmentalists also warned that the future of the rainforest could be at stake in this election, as Bolsonaro’s government has become known for its support of ruthless land exploitation in the Amazon, which led to record deforestation figures.

World leaders congratulated Lula da Silva on his victory.

US President Joe Biden called the election “free, fair and credible”, and said he “looked forward to working together to continue the cooperation between our two countries in the coming months and years”.

Regional leaders called their victory a “time of hope.”

“Your victory opens a new era for the history of Latin America. A time of hope and a future that begins today. Here you have a partner to work with and dream big about the good life of our people,” he said the president of Argentina Alberto Fernández on Twitter.

French President Emmanuel Macron described it as “a new chapter in Brazil’s history.” Together, we will join forces to face the many common challenges and renew the bond of friendship between our two countries.”

More than 156 million people were eligible to vote in this year’s election. The candidates themselves voted early on Sunday, with Lula voting at a public school in the São Paulo metropolitan area and Bolsonaro casting his vote in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday morning.

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