Lula defeats Bolsonaro to become president of Brazil again
Brazil’s electoral authority said on Sunday that Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of the left-wing Workers’ Party had beaten incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro to become the country’s next president.
With 98.8% of the votes counted, da Silva had 50.8% and Bolsonaro 49.2%, and the electoral authority said da Silva’s victory was a mathematical certainty.
Da Silva – the country’s former president from 2003 to 2010 – has promised to restore the country’s more prosperous past, but faces headwinds in a polarized society.
It’s a stunning return to power for da Silva, 77, whose 2018 jailing over a corruption scandal sidelined him from that year’s election, paving the way for the then-candidate to win , Bolsonaro, and four years of far-right politics.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s previous story follows below.
The outgoing far-right Jair Bolsonaro and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva were very close in the second round of the Brazilian presidential election with more than 97% of the votes collected. The election pits an incumbent president promising to safeguard conservative Christian values against a left-leaning former president promising to return the country to a more prosperous past.
Da Silva has 50.7% of the vote, compared to 49.3% for Bolsonaro, according to the country’s electoral authority.
Polling stations closed at 5 p.m. (2000 GMT; 4 p.m. EDT) across the country. Since voting takes place electronically, the first results are published quickly and the final results are usually available a few hours later.
Bolsonaro had led throughout the first half of the count, and as soon as da Silva passed him, cars on the streets of downtown Sao Paulo began honking. People could be heard in the streets of the Ipanema district of Rio de Janeiro shouting: “It turned!
At da Silva’s headquarters in downtown Sao Paulo, people refrained from celebrating until a respected pollster, Datafolha, predicted he had won; then they burst into cheers.
The election authority has yet to confirm a winner.
Outside Bolsonaro’s home in Rio de Janeiro, ground zero of his base of support, a woman on top of a truck said a prayer over a loudspeaker, then sang excitedly, trying to generate energy. But supporters decked out in the green and yellow of the flag barely responded. Many woke up when the national anthem played, singing loudly with their hands on their hearts.
In the first round of voting on October 2, the first half of the votes tallied also showed Bolsonaro in the lead, with da Silva taking the lead later after the votes from his strongholds were tallied. Both men are well-known and controversial political figures who arouse both passion and repugnance.
The vote will determine whether the world’s fourth-largest democracy maintains the same far-right political course or returns a leftist to the top job – and, if the latter, whether Bolsonaro accepts defeat. There have been several reports of what critics said were attempts to suppress likely voter turnout for da Silva, who served as president from 2003 to 2010.
Polling stations in the capital, Brasilia, were already packed in the morning, and at one retired government worker Luiz Carlos Gomes said he would vote for da Silva.
“He is best for the poor, especially in the countryside,” said Gomes, 65, from Maranhao state in the impoverished northeast region. “We were always hungry before him.”
Most opinion polls ahead of the election gave da Silva, universally known as Lula, a lead, although political analysts agreed the race had become increasingly close in recent weeks.
For months, it appeared da Silva was headed for an easy win as he stoked nostalgia for his presidency, as Brazil’s economy boomed and social assistance helped tens of millions of people. to join the middle class.
But while da Silva led the October 2 first-round election with 48% of the vote, Bolsonaro was a solid runner-up with 43%, showing that opinion polls significantly underestimated his popularity. Many Brazilians support Bolsonaro’s defense of conservative social values and he has bolstered his support through vast government spending.
Candidates in Brazil who come out on top in the first round tend to win the second round. But political scientist Rodrigo Prando said this campaign was so atypical that a victory for Bolsonaro could not be ruled out.
More than 150 million Brazilians are eligible to vote, but around 20% of the electorate abstained in the first round. Both da Silva and Bolsonaro have focused their efforts on attendance. The electoral authority prohibited any operation of the federal highway police from affecting the passage of voters on public transport.
Still, there were multiple reports of checkpoints and traffic stops. The Globo television channel reported more than 500 arrests, half of them in the northeast region, a stronghold of the Workers’ Party. The party filed a request for the arrest of the director of traffic police and demanded that polling stations in the region remain open until later.
Speaking to reporters in Brasilia, the president of the electoral authority, Alexandre de Moraes, said the director of police clarified that no stop had lasted more than 15 minutes, that turnout had not been affected and that polling stations would close at 5 p.m. local time as planned.
Bolsonaro was the first to vote at a military compound in Rio de Janeiro. He wore the green and yellow colors of the Brazilian flag that always feature at his rallies.
“I’m waiting for our victory, for the good of Brazil,” he told reporters afterwards. “God willing, we will be victorious this afternoon. In fact, Brazil will be victorious.
Da Silva cast his vote on Sunday morning in Sao Bernardo do Campo, a city outside Sao Paulo where he lived for decades and began his political career as a labor leader. He wore white, as he often did during the campaign, rather than his party’s traditional red.
“Today we choose the type of Brazil we want, how we want our society to be organized. People will decide what kind of life they want,” da Silva told reporters. “That’s why this is the most important day of my life. I am convinced that Brazilians will vote for a plan where democracy will prevail.
The candidates have offered few proposals for the country’s future beyond asserting that they will pursue a large social protection program for the poor, despite very limited fiscal space in the future. They railed against each other and launched online smear campaigns – with many more attacks coming from within Bolsonaro’s camp.
On the eve of the election, Bolsonaro shared a video of former US President Donald Trump supporting him on Twitter, saying he had secured universal respect for Brazil on the world stage. Da Silva specifically criticized Bolsonaro for the nation’s fallen stature abroad, pointing to a lack of state visits and bilateral meetings.
“Don’t lose it, don’t let this happen,” Trump said in the video. “It would not be good for your country. I love your country, but that wouldn’t be good. So get out there and vote for President Bolsonaro. It does the job like few could.
His four years in office were marked by proclaimed conservatism and the defense of traditional Christian values. He claimed that his rival’s return to power would introduce communism, the legalization of drugs, abortion and the persecution of churches – things that did not happen during da Silva’s first eight years in power.
On Sunday, Livia Correia and her husband, Pedro, brought her two young children to a polling station in Rio’s Copacabana neighborhood, where Bolsonaro supporters regularly gather. They were all wearing green and yellow shirts. Livia, 36, said she voted for Bolsonaro because he stands up for what is dear to him: “family values, God and freedom of expression”.
Da Silva focused on Bolsonaro’s widely criticized handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and said the president failed to care for the most needy members of society. And he painted Bolsonaro as an opponent of the Amazon rainforest, given that he disgraced environmental authorities and presided over a surge in deforestation.
But for many, the record of da Silva’s Workers’ Party is equally off-putting. A sprawling investigation revealed the party’s involvement in sweeping corruption scandals that have ensnared politicians and senior executives.
Da Silva himself was imprisoned for 19 months for corruption and money laundering. The Supreme Court overturned his convictions in 2019, on the grounds that the judge was biased and colluded with prosecutors. That didn’t stop Bolsonaro from reminding voters of the convictions.
The president’s formidable digital mobilization has been on display in recent days as his campaign introduces new – and unproven – allegations of possible electoral manipulation. It has reignited fears that Bolsonaro could challenge the election results if he loses – just like Trump, whom he admires.
For months, he claimed the country’s electronic voting machines were prone to fraud, though he never presented evidence, even after the election authority gave him a deadline to do so.
More recently, the allegations centered on airtime for political ads. Bolsonaro’s campaign claimed radio stations could have harmed their candidate by failing to air more than 150,000 election spots.
“If da Silva wins we’re going to have a problem,” said Pedro Correia, 40, who joined his wife and two children in Copacabana.
“It’s impossible for him to win,” he said.
Carla Bridi contributed to this report from Brasilia.