After a narrow runoff in Sunday’s election, Luis Inacio “Lula” da Silva was elected next president of Brazil in an incredible comeback. After four years of far-right government by Jair Bolsonaro, his triumph signals a political turnaround for Latin America’s largest nation.
With his victory, the 76-year-old politician returns the left to power in Brazil and ends the spectacular political comeback of Lula da Silva, who was jailed for 580 days after multiple corruption charges. The way for him to run for re-election was opened when the Supreme Court later overturned the convictions.
In a triumphant speech to fans and journalists on Sunday night, he declared the victory his political “resurrection”, adding, “They tried to bury me alive and I’m here.”
“I will govern for the 215 million Brazilians, not just those who voted for me, as of January 1, 2023. There is only one Brazil. Lula da Silva added: “We are one nation – one people, one wonderful nation.
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He will take control of a nation still working to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and plagued by extreme inequality. Between 2019 and 2021, 9.6 million people lived below the poverty line, while literacy and school attendance rates declined.
He will also have to deal with a deeply divided country and pressing environmental issues, such as the widespread destruction of the Amazon rainforest. Having already led Brazil for two consecutive terms between 2003 and 2010, this will be his third term.
The latest in a leftist wave
The former president’s victory on Sunday was the latest in a wave of leftist candidates winning elections in Latin America. But during his campaign, Lula da Silva – a former blue-collar union leader – tried to placate moderates.
His broad coalition now includes several centrist and centre-right MPs, including former PSDB rivals, Social Democratic Party of Brazil. Geraldo Alcmin, former governor of São Paulo, is one such politician and has been cited by Lula’s camp as a guarantee of moderation in his administration.
When it came to outlining economic policy during the campaign, Lula da Silva showed a cautious hand, drawing sharp criticism from his rivals. Who is the economic minister of the opponent? It doesn’t say there isn’t one. What political and economic course will he take? Status added? fewer countries? On Oct. 22, Bolsonaro said during a live YouTube broadcast, “We don’t know…
According to Lula da Silva, he will lobby Congress to pass a tax reform that would exempt people with modest incomes from paying income tax. And third-place finisher in the first round of voting earlier this month, centrist former presidential candidate Simone Tebbet, who backed Lula da Silva in the second round, gave his campaign a boost.
IN press conference on October 7 Tebbet, who is well known for her ties to Brazil’s agricultural sector, said Lula da Silva and his economic team had “accepted and implemented all the proposals of our program to the agenda of his government.”
RW rejected in #Brazil. False nationalism catches up when you fail to deliver on promises. (Sounds familiar!) Lula sends Bolsonaro packing https://t.co/VqFos9pfjC
— Derek O’Brien | Derek O’Brien (@derekobrienmp) October 31, 2022
He also has the support of several well-known economists who are liked by investors, including Arminio Fraga, the former head of Brazil’s central bank.
Healing a split side
Lula da Silva received more votes than any other candidate in Brazilian history, beating his record from 2006.
However, Bolsonaro’s victory was by a slim margin; according to Brazil’s electoral authorities, Bolsonaro received 49.10% of the vote compared to Lula da Silva’s 50.90%. Uniting a politically divided nation may be his toughest challenge right now.
Bolsonaro has yet to declare defeat or make public remarks hours after the results were announced. Videos posted on social media at the time revealed that his supporters had closed two state highways to protest Lula da Silva’s victory.
In a video shot in the southern state of Santa Catarina, an unnamed Bolsonaro supporter shouted: “We will not leave until the army takes over the country.”
I send my congratulations to Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on his election as the next president of Brazil after free, fair and credible elections. I look forward to working together to continue the cooperation between our two countries in the coming months and years.
— President Biden (@POTUS) October 31, 2022
According to Carlos Mello, a political scientist at Insper University in São Paulo, Lula da Silva will have to continue the discussion and restore relations. While he’s not concerned with simply talking to his base of supporters, the president can be a useful tool in that, he said.
Lula da Silva will have to form “pragmatic alliances” with elements of the center and right that supported his predecessor’s policies, added Thiago Amparo, professor of law and human rights at Sao Paulo’s FGV business school. Bolsonaro, who received more than 58 million votes, was backed by former US President Donald Trump.
Amparo continued: “At the same time, he will have to perform to live up to the expectations of the fans.” “Many voters went to the polls expecting this, not only because they wanted to get rid of Bolsonaro, but also because they had memories of a more good economic times under previous Lula administrations.”
Brazil election live: Lula triumphs over far-right incumbent Bolsonaro in stunning comeback https://t.co/uvRYX4CBxi
— Tanya Talaga (@TanyaTalaga) October 31, 2022
Many people will be watching for future changes to the Labor Reform Act of 2017, which made union dues optional and made additional employee rights and benefits up for negotiation with employers. After receiving objections from the commercial sector, Lula da Silva recently reversed his previous promise to “review” the measure.
Amparo warns that it may be difficult for him to carry out his plan, especially in the face of a hostile Congress. Amparo emphasizes that seats once held by members of the traditional right are now held by members of the far right who are difficult to work with and unwilling to negotiate.
Bolsonaro’s liberal party made gains in the last election, rising from 76 to 99 deputies in the lower house and from 7 to 14 senators. Although Lula da Silva’s Workers’ Party added more senators and deputies, from seven to eight, the next legislature will still be dominated by conservative-leaning lawmakers.
Political scientist at the Cebrap think tank, Camila Rocha, notes that this friction will require some concessions. Rocha told CNN that “[Lula da Silva’s] The Workers’ Party will have to form a coalition with Unio Brasil to govern, which means negotiations for ministries and key positions.
Bolsonaro’s Liberal Party will have the most representatives and significant allies and will be the real opposition to the government.
Amazon and climate leadership
Meanwhile, environmentalists will be watching the Lula da Silva administration closely as it gains control of the Brazilian nation and the largest forest reserves on the planet.
Lula da Silva has consistently said throughout his campaign that he will work to stop deforestation, which has reached record levels under Bolsonaro. He said conserving the forest could bring some financial gain, citing the potential benefits of biodiversity for the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries.
In an interview with international media in August, Lula da Silva called for the creation of a “new world governance” to combat climate change and stressed that Brazil should play a key role in that governance because of its natural wealth.
Alonzo Mercadante, the leader of Lula da Silva’s government plan, said another strategy would be to form a coalition with Brazil, Indonesia and Congo ahead of the UN-led Conference of the Parties in November 2022. The group would seek to exert pressure on more rich nations to provide funding for forest conservation and draw up plans for a global carbon market.
Trump’s DC rally organizer on J6 has thoughts on Brazil. pic.twitter.com/kd7SV751Pk
— Ron Filipkowski ?? (@RonFilipkowski) October 31, 2022
According to some analysts who spoke to CNN, Brazil’s foreign relations could be reset by its stance on the environment and climate change.
After Bolsonaro warned the world not to interfere in the destruction of the Amazon, Amparo believes that environmental protection can indeed serve as a springboard for Brazil’s global leadership. On the international stage, “Lula will try to reposition, almost like rebranding, Brazil on the international stage as a force to be reckoned with,” he said.
“We can expect a government that will go back to talking to the world, especially with a new position on the environment,” said Mello, the Insper researcher.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of the Workers’ Party defeated Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s electoral commission announced Sunday.
After 98.8% of the votes in the runoff were counted, da Silva received 50.8% and Bolsonaro 49.2%, and the electoral commission declared da Silva the winner.
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