Brazilian President-elect Lula da Silva addresses the nation after his victory in the presidential runoff election, São Paulo, October 30. Photo: Lincon Zarbiett / AP Images.
Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva won Sunday’s runoff election in Brazil. He won with 50.8 percent of the vote over incumbent Jair Bolsonaro, becoming the republic’s next president starting January 1, 2023. Lula fared better in metropolitan areas, the northeast, and municipalities with high indigenous populations while trailing Bolsonaro in medium-sized cities and the center and south regions of the country. After the victory, Lula addressed Brazilians and made clear that “they want more freedom, equality, and fraternity in our country,” adding that “I will govern for 215 million Brazilians and not just for those who voted for me.” While Bolsonaro has not publicly conceded, he told the Supreme Court, “it’s over. Let’s look forward,” and authorized his chief of staff, Ciro Nogueira, to begin the transition process. Bolsonaro’s prominent allies, including Senate president Rodrigo Pacheco and Chamber of Deputies President Arthur Lira, immediately congratulated Lula da Silva when the election results were revealed. However, Bolsonaro supporters have blocked highways across the country in attempts to protest the result—causing traffic jams and airline cancellations—and demanded Bolsonaro mobilize the military. On Tuesday, the Brazilian Supreme Court ordered state and federal highway police to remove the pro-Bolsonaro roadblock. Bolsonaro also publicly called for roadblocks to end on Wednesday.
Argentine President Alberto Fernández met Lula in São Paulo following the victory, stressing that Lula’s presidency would strengthen the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) and continent’s unity. U.S. President Joe Biden congratulated Lula and emphasized that the U.S. would further cooperate on climate change, food security, regional migration, democracy, and social inclusion. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz tweeted that he looks forward to cooperating with Lula, especially on trade and climate protection. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador commended Lula on a phone call and invited him to Mexico City for an in-person conversation on November 24. Chinese General Secretary Xi Jinping announced his willingness to bring bilateral relations “to a new level.”
Lula’s victory ended a campaign fraught with disinformation and violence. In previous debates, Lula and Bolsonaro attacked each other over corruption, COVID-19 mismanagement, and the economic situation. Bolsonaro repeatedly questioned the electoral system and said that only “God could remove him from power.” Lula da Silva previously served two terms between 2003 and 2010, riding the global commodity boom. In 2017, the Supreme Court sentenced Lula to nearly ten years in prison for accepting bribes, an action which was overruled the following year.