After a bitter election campaign, left-wing ex-president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva narrowly won the presidential election in Brazil. The former head of state received 50.90 percent of the votes in the runoff, as the electoral office in Brasília announced on Monday night after counting the votes. The right-wing incumbent Jair Bolsonaro received 49.10 percent.
Now Lula wants to reconcile an extremely divided Brazil. "I will govern for 215 million Brazilians," he said in his first post-election speech in São Paulo. "There are no two Brazils, only one people." Now the moment has come to restore peace.
The former trade unionist Lula had already ruled the largest country in Latin America with more than 210 million inhabitants from the beginning of 2003 to the end of 2010.
He is Brazil's first democratically elected president to serve a third term. In addition to the head of state, governors were also elected in a dozen states on Sunday. Lula posted a picture of the Brazilian flag holding a hand on Twitter on Sunday. Above it was "Democracy." Thousands of supporters of the Labor Party (PT) candidate celebrated Lula's victory on the boulevard Avenida Paulista in the metropolis of São Paulo.
French President Emmanuel Macron immediately congratulated Lula on her election. "A new chapter in the history of Brazil is being opened," he wrote on Twitter. "We will join forces to face the many common challenges and renew the bond of friendship between our two countries." In recent years, Macron had clashed with Brazilian President Bolsonaro, especially on international environmental policy. The German Ambassador Heiko Thoms also congratulated Lula via Twitter.
The presidential election has extremely divided Latin America's largest economy. "I am confident that we will find a way out so that this country can live democratically and harmoniously again," Lula said in his speech. "We can even restore peace between those whose opinions differ."
The already fierce election campaign had become increasingly dirty in the final sprint. Brazilians have been inundated with a flood of misinformation, especially on social media and Whatsapp groups. The television debates, in which Lula and Bolsonaro made accusations against each other, seemed downright civilized.
Many supporters of the 77-year-old associate Lula with Brazil's golden age, when the economy was booming due to high commodity prices and the government was using social programs to lift millions of people out of abject poverty. For his opponents, on the other hand, Lula is responsible for corruption and nepotism.
In 2018, Lula herself was sentenced to a lengthy prison sentence for corruption and money laundering, spending 580 days in prison. Last year, a Supreme Court judge overturned the verdict on formal grounds. Lula regained his political rights and soon returned to the political arena.
Bolsonaro's supporters see their head of state as a defender of traditional family values and economic freedom and as a bulwark against the alleged threat of communism. However, he also alienated many people with his sometimes vulgar statements against women, homosexuals and indigenous people. With his blockade on climate protection, his idiosyncratic corona policy and his attacks on democratic institutions such as the Supreme Court, he isolating Brazil more and more on the world stage. "Brazil is back," Lula said. It is too big to be downgraded to the pariah of the world.
The election in Brazil is also of international importance. As a huge carbon reservoir, the Amazon region plays an important role in the fight against global climate change. In addition, Brazil is a potentially important trading partner with its enormous natural resources, high proportion of green energy and large agricultural economy.