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Brazil: Lula wins

Lula obtains agonizingly slim majority in presidential run-off

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Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Lula) won 50.9 per cent of the votes in the run-off election for president of Brazil on Sunday 30 October. The margin was very narrow, after Lula failed to win the hoped-for decisive victory in the first round of voting on 2 October.

Polls before the first round had consistently underestimated support for Jair Bolsonaro. In the event, the incumbent took 43.2 per cent against Lula’s 48.4 per cent, lending fuel to the Bolsonaristas’ claims of a media conspiracy against them.

Voting in the second round appears to have proceeded relatively peacefully, despite considerable fears and some explicit threats of violence. The result was, again, narrower than polls had predicted.

Brazil presidential elections, 30 October 2022. Results by state, with 100% of districts counted. Figure: The Guardian

There were some reports of police stopping vehicles carrying voters to polling stations, prompting action by the electoral commission to halt the interference.

Bolsonaro has so far remained silent and has not yet (11:30 BST, 31 October) conceded defeat. Prior to the elections he had persistently thrown doubt on the reliability of the election system, with numerous claims that Brazil’s widely admired and exceptionally swift electronic voting and counting system was rigged against him or could be manipulated. He had implied that if the count went against him it must be false, since only God could remove him from the presidency.

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However, the Superior Electoral Commission was adamant that these were the definitive results. International leaders, including Alberto Fernandez (Argentina), Gabriel Boric (Chile), Gustavo Petro (Colombia), López Obrador (Mexico), Maduro (Venezuela), Biden (US), Trudeau (Canada), Sunak (UK), Macron (France), Scholz (Germany), Sánchez (Spain), Albanese (Australia), Modi (India), and even Putin (Russia) were swift to accept the result and offer congratulations to the winner.

The result is also one of the few pieces of good news for the upcoming COP-27 climate conference in Egypt, where environmentalists will be heaving a mighty sigh of relief that the Bolsonaro period of accelerated Amazon destruction is destined to end soon.

Under Brazil’s electoral system, the incoming president is not inaugurated until 1 January 2023 and the intervening period is likely to be exceptionally tense.

LAB will be covering the election and its aftermath in more detail in the coming days and weeks. In particular, we will examine some of the main challenges facing the new administration and the likely difficulty in implementing many measures in the face of a centre and right-wing majority in Congress and the PT’s failure to capture many important state governorships and legislatures.


Title video: Lula’s acceptance speech. Video: Poder360