(Featured image provided by DANILO MARTINS YOSHIOKA/ANADOLU AGENCY VIA GETTY IMAGES)
After a very tight election this Sunday, Luiz Inácio da Silva, also known as “Lula” to Brazilians, just won the office of the President of Brazil. This win marks a return of leftist power to Brazil, as the previous president Jair Bolsonaro ran a particularly far-right administration during his four years in office. “I’m really happy,” said Victor Costelo, one of Lula’s supporters. “The next four years will be more hopeful for us.”
This will be Da Silva’s third term as president, as he had two consecutive terms between 2003 and 2010. During his previous terms, he oversaw a great economic boom in Brazil, which made him widely praised throughout Latin America. However, after he left office, it was found that he had been involved in a bribery scandal along with hundreds of other politicians, which landed him 580 days in prison. However, Da Silva was released early on a technicality, and he resumed his political career. “They tried to bury me alive and I’m here,” said Da Silva, Sunday evening after the results had been announced.
The original presidential election happened on October 2, 2022. There were a total of 11 candidates, with Bolsonaro and Da Silva appearing as the top two candidates. However, both failed to secure at least 50% of the votes, which led to the runoff election that happened recently. Da Silva promised to increase the minimum wage as well as jumpstart the economy, which has been declining ever since the pandemic. Da Silva also promised to do more to protect the Amazon Rainforest in light of deforestation hitting an all-time high under Bolsonaro. Meanwhile, Bolsonaro, who’s often been called the “Trump of the Tropics,” questioned the reliability of Brazil’s electronic voting system, and even insinuated that he might not accept the results if he deemed them to be “abnormal.” He campaigned his slogan of “God, Nation, Family, and Liberty,” and branded the other side as the Communist threat.
Both opponents took whatever opportunity they could get to attack each other in the politically polarized climate of Brazil. Da Silva’s allies accused local police of blocking supporters riding in buses from being able to reach voting destinations. However, Brazil’s election authority, the Superior Electoral Court, denied requests to extend voting time. Da Silva has also been reluctant to reveal what strategy he was going to implement to help heal Brazil’s economy, which is currently suffering from high inflation. “Who is the other candidate’s economy minister? There isn’t one, he doesn’t say. What will be his political and economic route? More state? Less state? We don’t know…,” said Bolsonaro on a live Youtube transmission.
In the end, Da Silva just barely won, securing 50.9% of the vote, while Bolsonaro secured around 49.1%. Although the win was great news for most supporters of Da Silva, others were worried about Bolsonaro’s reaction to his loss. As of now, there has been no formal statement by Bolsonaro regarding the election except that he would be beginning the transition out of office. Moreover, Bolsonaro supporters, many of whom are truck drivers who benefited from his policies, have recently been blocking Brazil’s highways in protest. “We will only leave once the army takes over the country,” stated one unidentified Bolsonaro supporter in a video.
Many world leaders congratulated Da Silva on his win, including Latin American leaders who were glad to see a return of leftist power to Brazil in a region dominated by leftist parties. “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,” tweeted Alberto Fernández, the president of Argentina. United States President Joe Biden also congratulated Da Silva on his win, saying that he’s looking forward to “working together to continue the cooperation between our two countries in the months and years ahead.”
“Starting on January 1, 2023, I will govern for the 215 million Brazilians, not just the ones who voted for me. There are not two Brazils. We are one country, one people, one great nation,” stated Da Silva.