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Business News/ News / World/  Lula beats Bolsonaro to become Brazil’s president
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Lula beats Bolsonaro to become Brazil’s president

Lula, who previously led Brazil between 2003 and 2010, won with 50.9% of votes, while Bolsonaro bagged 49.1% of the valid votes

Brazilian president-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. (AFP)Premium
Brazilian president-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. (AFP)

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, popularly known as Lula, is set to become the president of Brazil, beating incumbent Jair Bolsonaro in a closely contested election.

Lula, who previously led Brazil between 2003 and 2010, won with 50.9% of votes, while Bolsonaro bagged 49.1% of the valid votes.

The contest between the two leaders has sharply divided Latin America’s largest democracy. Lula, a former trade union activist, banked on his past record during the campaign. High commodity prices and a global economic boom in the early 2000s allowed Lula to fund generous anti-poverty campaigns and won him much popularity.

Bolsonaro, by contrast, presented himself as a defender of conservative values. “God, family and country" went his slogan. While veteran leftist leader Lula was once expected to win by a handy margin, Bolsonaro gained quickly in the polls and forced a runoff election.

Disinformation and political violence became a depressingly common affair during the campaigning. Right wing leader Bolsonaro claimed that Brazil’s electronic voting systems are susceptible to fraud. The country has used electronic vote counting systems since 1996 and its election authorities have not detected significant fraud. Bolsonaro, who opposes legaised abortion and pro-LGBTQ policies, has also accused Lula of plotting to close churches. Meanwhile, Bolsonaro has been bizarrely accused of cannibalism. Accusations of voter intimidation by the police and clashes between rival political groups have also become common.

The election and its aftermath will be important for two major reasons. First, it may sorely test Brazil’s democratic institutions. Bolsonaro, a former army captain, had previously expressed admiration for Brazil’s military dictatorship and Latin American strongmen. His opponents accused him of attacking democratic institutions.

Bolsonaro’s rhetoric has not helped: he rallied supporters by stating that he would win “despite the attempt to manipulate the result". Fears persist that he may take a page out of former President Donald Trump’s playbook and attempt to contest the election result. The fate of Latin America’s largest democracy hangs in the balance.

Second, Bolsonaro’s environmental policy has worried global observers. Deforestation has increased substantially during his tenure while emissions have continued to climb. The Amazonian rainforest has seen intensive deforestation and resource exploitation. Lula has promised the equivalent of a green new deal and a complete overhaul of environmental policy.

His election was welcomed by a host of world leaders. India Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Joe Biden, President Macron of France and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued congratulatory statements. “Long live Lula" tweeted Colombian President Gustavo Petro while Chilean President Gabriel Boric Font simply said “Lula. Joy!".

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Published: 31 Oct 2022, 12:53 PM IST
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