Leftist Former Leader Lula Defeats Right-Wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva defeated incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro in a widely-watched election on Saturday, The New York Times reports.

Lula eked out a win over the one-term incumbent, winning the race 50.9% to 49.1%.

Lula, who returned to politics after being imprisoned on corruption charges that were later thrown out by the Supreme Court, is expected to move Brazil back to the left after four years of right-wing rule.

Latin America has seen a wave of anti-incumbent backlash, with six of the seven largest countries electing leftist leaders over the last four years.

Lula is set to take office on January 1.

Bolsonaro hasn’t conceded:

Bolsonaro has yet to concede the race and has stayed unusually quiet since the election was called.

Bolsonaro leading up to the election suggested that he would not accept a defeat, raising worries of a potential coup attempt.

But some Bolsonaro allies have already acknowledged his loss.

“We lost an election but we haven’t lost our love for our country ... Bolsonaro will leave the presidency in January with his head held high,” wrote evangelical preacher Damares Alves, a close Bolsonaro ally.

“One by one, Bolsonaristas recognize Lula’s victory,” wrote political commentator Bernardo Mello Franco. “This leaves the president without the political support to attempt any kind of coup-style adventure.”

Lula return:

“I will govern for 215 million Brazilians, and not just for those who voted for me,” Lula vowed on Sunday. “There are not two Brazils. We are one country, one people, one great nation.”

But it’s unclear how much power Lula will have to implement his platform of expanding services and welfare programs for the poor, a higher minimum wage, and programs to feed and house people that would be paid for by higher taxes on the rich.

But Bolsonaro’s party still controls the most seats in Congress and a powerful centrist bloc controls both chambers of Congress.

“His election, however, will likely be good news for the health of the Amazon rainforest, which is vital to the fight against climate change,” The Times reported. “Mr. Bolsonaro championed industries that extract the forest’s resources while slashing funds and staffing for the agencies tasked with protecting it. As a result, deforestation soared during his administration.”


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