Thousands took to the streets of Brazil to celebrate as Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of the Workers’ Party (PT) was elected president on Sunday, October 30. With almost 50.9% of the votes, Lula, a trade unionist who was also president from 2003-2010, defeated incumbent Jair Bolsonaro of the Liberal Party who got around 49.1% in the run-off election. Lula is set to be in office from 2023-2027.
The second round of the presidential election was held after neither candidate managed to obtain the necessary 50% plus one vote in the first round held on October 2. Elections were also held for the post of Governor in 12 States. Around 156 million Brazilians were eligible to vote.
The results mark a remarkable comeback for Lula who just a few years ago was in jail on corruption charges which were later overturned. His campaign for this election was driven by the left, people’s movements, trade unions, and radical and progressive forces across the country.
Many in Brazil had pointed out that Lula’s victory would mark a key moment in the reversal of a number of processes that began with the constitutional coup against PT’s President Dilma Rousseff in 2016. Lula ran on the slogan of “bringing hope back to Brazil” and promised to respond to the immediate needs of the population and to recover the social and economic rights that have been lost in the last six years during the governments of Michel Temer (who succeeded Dilma) and Jair Bolsonaro. Lula’s years as president saw a drastic improvement in social indicators in Brazil.
Under Jair Bolsonaro, the COVID-19 pandemic ripped through Brazil, killing over 700,00 people. Bolsonaro’s tenure also saw a slashing of key welfare programs and the deterioration of Brazil’s famous health system as well as food sovereignty. The Bolsonaro presidency also saw an increase in attacks on the Amazon rainforests through deforestation which were accelerated by his relaxing environmental norms.
The Bolsonaro years were also marked by the right-wing gaining strength and becoming more aggressive with the president leading from the front, along with his family members. A close ally of former US President Donald Trump, Bolsonaro celebrated the brutal military dictatorship (1964-85) and relentlessly attacked democratic institutions, including the electoral system whose fairness he questioned repeatedly without providing any evidence. The run-up to the election on Sunday was marked by a massive fake news campaign by the right wing.
[Reprinted from People's Dispatch.]