Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva defeated sitting President Jair Bolsonaro in the second round of the presidential elections, paving the way for his third four-year term beginning January 1, 2023.
Figures released by the Superior Electoral Tribunal (TSE) showed that Lula of the Workers’ Party (PT) obtained more than 60 million votes, or 50.89 per cent of the ballots, cast on Sunday, surpassing Bolsonaro of the Liberal Party, who received over 58 million votes, or 49.11 per cent, reports Xinhua news agency.
This is the smallest margin in a second-round presidential election in Brazil’s history.
In the first round held on October 2, Lula garnered 48.3 per cent of the vote, compared to 43.2 per cent for Bolsonaro.
Lula, 77, served as the President for two terms between 2003 and 2010.
This is a comeback for the former President who could not run in the 2018 election because he was in jail and banned from standing for office.
He had been found guilty of receiving a bribe from a Brazilian construction firm in return for contracts with Brazil’s state oil company Petrobras.
Lula spent 580 days in jail before his conviction was annulled and he returned to the political fray.
In this year’s presidential elections, his strength lay particularly in voters from the impoverished northeast of Brazil.
He focused his campaign on social issues, making pledges including minimum wage increases, strengthening of state-owned companies, and efforts against hunger and poverty.
“The first measures of our government will be to free 33 million people from hunger and more than 100 million Brazilians from poverty,” Lula had said in an open letter last week.
Proposing an economic policy featuring both state actions and private initiatives, he said, “it is possible to combine fiscal responsibility, social responsibility, and sustainable development, and that is what we are going to do, following the trends of the world’s main economies”.
“We will initiate the digital transition … with an industrial policy that supports innovation, stimulates public-private cooperation, strengthens science and technology, and guarantees access to financing at adequate costs.”
Lula also pledged to expand trade and technological cooperation between Brazil and other countries, help enhance regional integration, and promote “fairer and more democratic relations between countries”.
Meanwhile in his victory speech on Sunday, Lula said he would govern for all Brazilians and not just those who voted for him.
“This country needs peace and unity. This population doesn’t want to fight anymore,” he was quoted as saying.
Bolsonaro however, is yet to concede.
Just a day before the runoff, he had said: “There is not the slightest doubt. Whoever has more votes, takes it (the election). That’s what democracy is about.”