By Mauricio Saverese and Brazil’s electoral authority said Sunday that Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of the leftist Worker’s Party defeated incumbent Jair Bolsonaro to become the country’s next president.
With 98.8 per cent of the votes tallied, da Silva had 50.8 per cent and Bolsonaro 49.2 per cent, and the election authority said da Silva’s victory was a mathematical certainty.
Da Silva — the country’s former president from 2003-2010 — has promised to restore the country’s more prosperous past, yet faces faces headwinds in a polarised society.
It is a stunning return to power for da Silva, 77, whose 2018 imprisonment over a corruption scandal sidelined him from that year’s election, paving the way for then-candidate Bolsonaro’s win and four years of far-right politics.
Far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro had been leading throughout the first half of the count and, as soon as da Silva overtook him, cars in the streets of downtown Sao Paulo began honking their horns. People in the streets of Rio de Janeiro’s Ipanema neighbourhood could be heard shouting, “It turned!”
At da Silva’s headquarters in downtown Sao Paulo, people refrained from celebrating until a respected pollster, Datafolha, projected he had won; then they erupted in cheers.
Outside Bolsonaro’s home in Rio de Janeiro, ground-zero for his support base, a woman atop a truck delivered a prayer over a speaker, then sang excitedly, trying to generate some energy. But supporters decked out in the green and yellow of the flag barely responded. Many perked up when the national anthem played, singing along loudly with hands over their hearts.
In the first round of voting, on October 2, the first half of votes tallied likewise showed Bolsonaro ahead, with da Silva pulling ahead later after votes from his strongholds were counted. Both men are well-known, divisive political figures who stir passion as much as loathing.