SAO PAULO: Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva narrowly defeated President Jair Bolsonaro in a runoff election on Sunday that marked a stunning comeback for the leftist former president and the end of Brazil’s most right-wing government in decades. Brazil’s Supreme Electoral Court declared Lula the next president, with 50.9% of votes versus 49.1% for Bolsonaro. The 77-year-old Lula’s inauguration is scheduled for January 1. The vote was a rebuke for the fiery far-right populism of Bolsonaro, who emerged from the back benches of Congress to forge a novel conservative coalition but lost support as Brazil ran up one of the worst death tolls of the coronavirus pandemic.
Bolsonaro remained silent on Sunday night after the results were announced and some of his allies publicly acknowledged his defeat, defying expectations that he might immediately challenge the narrow result after making baseless claims of fraud in previous elections.
Bolsonaro did not make a call to Lula, according to campaign advisers.
Lula said in a speech he would unite a divided country and ensure that Brazilians “put down arms that never should have been taken up,” while inviting international cooperation to preserve the Amazon rainforest and make global trade more fair.
“I will govern for 215 million Brazilians, and not just for those who voted for me,” Lula said at his campaign headquarters. “There are not two Brazils. We are one country, one people, one great nation.”
Lula arrived at a rally in Sao Paulo shortly after 8:00 p.m. (1100 GMT), waving from the sunroof of a car. Ecstatic supporters near Paulista Avenue waited for him, chanting slogans and drinking champagne.
Vice President-elect Geraldo Alckmin and campaign aides jumped up and down chanting, “It’s time Jair, it’s time to leave already,” in a video circulating on social media.
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