Leftist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva defeated incumbent Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil’s presidential elections by a slim margin of less than two points on Sunday, a result which is yet to be accepted by the far-right leader who has previously made unproven allegations of electoral fraud.
With all votes counted, da Silva—widely known as Lula—secured 50.9% of the votes compared to Bolsonaro’s 49.1%, winning by a margin of around 2 million votes.
In his victory speech delivered in Sao Paulo, Lula called the result a “victory of a democratic movement,” as he vowed to govern for all Brazilians “not just for those who voted for me.”
Bolsonaro, who has repeatedly made unsubstantiated claims about election fraud and voting machine manipulation had not officially conceded defeat at the time of publishing.
According to Reuters, Bolsonaro is not expected to make any public remarks about results until Monday morning.
President Joe Biden joined several other world leaders to congratulate Lula for his victory following “free, fair, and credible elections” adding that he looked forward to building cooperation between the U.S. and Brazil.
Bolsonaro is the first president to not win reelection since the reinstatement of democracy in Brazil in 1985.
Lula’s win caps off a spectacular comeback for the 77-year-old leftist leader who was unable to run against Bolsonaro in 2018 after being jailed on corruption charges. After spending 19 months in jail Lula’s conviction was overturned by Brazil’s Supreme Court. Lula previously served as Brazil’s President from 2003 to 2010 during which he oversaw a massive economic boom and helped build Brazil’s social welfare system. Like his previous stint in the 2000s, Lula’s victory coincided with a series of other left-wing victories across Latin America dubbed as the “pink tide.” In the past few years, Colombia, Mexico, Argentina, Chile and Peru have also elected left-wing leaders to the nation’s top office.
In the lead up to one of the most divisive elections in the region, Bolsonaro pulled a page from former U.S. President Donald Trump’s playbook by preemptively questioning the integrity of the elections during his campaign. Without any evidence, the far-right leader has repeatedly claimed that the country’s electronic voting machines could be easily manipulated to alter the results. Last week, Bolsonaro’s son said his father was the victim of “the greatest electoral fraud ever seen” fanning further fears that he may question the outcome if he loses. Despite raising concerns about a blockade by Brazil’s Federal Highway Police which may have impeded Lula’s voters earlier on Sunday, international election observers were satisfied by the integrity of the elections.
Lula defeats Bolsonaro to again become Brazil’s president (Associated Press)
Brazil Ejects Bolsonaro and Brings Back Former Leftist Leader Lula (New York Times)