The former leftist president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has defeated far-right wing candidate Jair Bolsonaro in the Brazilian ballotage, held on October 30, 2022. The results confirmed Lula’s presidency and signaled a turn, once again, towards the left in the country.
Lula narrowly defeated Bolsonaro with a slight margin of 1.8%. Indeed, the polls closed with Lula obtaining 50.9% of the votes, enough to grant him victory against Bolsonaro’s 49.1%.
Although opinion polls gave the impression that Lula would have won the election without a doubt, Bolsonaro led the first half of the vote count, making many voters doubt the accuracy of the polls. In the end, Lula took the lead, and many began celebrating.
Nonetheless, while Bolsonaro lost the presidential election, a number of his lawmakers won the majority in Congress. This means that Lula will have to deal with opposition in the legislative body.
Moreover, Bolsonaro has yet to make a declaration about the election, as it is a tradition in Brazil to have the losing candidate speak first and accept the loss. “So far, Bolsonaro has not called me to recognize my victory, and I don’t know if he will call or if he will recognize my victory” stated Lula, as he celebrated with his supporters in São Paulo.
Bolsonaro has been casting doubts on the Brazilian voting system, claiming, without providing proof, that the system is at risk of fraud. These declarations could mean he won’t accept the election results. Yet, the day prior to the ballotage, Bolsonaro claimed that “There is not the slightest doubt. Whoever has more votes, takes it. That’s what democracy is about”, in reference to the elections.
The elections themselves were held on the battleground of two very different visions of the future for Brazil. On the one hand, Lula promised to fight poverty, an issue affecting more than 33 million Brazilians and that has been on the rise in the past few years, as well as promising more social and environmental responsibility, stating that he is "open to international co-operation to protect the Amazon".
On the other hand, Bolsonaro’s campaign centred on turning Brazilian politics to a rightward orientation, after his presidency was marked by widespread deforestation in the Amazon rainforest and the dramatic outbreaks of the Covid-19 virus.
In his victory speech, Lula claimed that he would govern for all Brazilians, not just the ones who voted for him. He stated that “This country needs peace and unity. This population doesn't want to fight anymore” and “I will govern for 215 million Brazilians, and not just those who voted for me. There are not two Brazils. We are one country, one people, one great nation.”
Despite these declarations, Brazil is an immensely polarised country, and virtually half of its population is not happy with the results of the election. Many may question the legitimacy of the results. Indeed, the following days will be crucial for the establishment of Lula’s government and its legitimization.
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