Far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro is defeated by left-wing ex-President Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva in the deciding round of Brazil’s presidential vote. Lula won 50.8% of all valid votes to nearly 49.2% for Bolsonaro. Lula, president from 2003 to 2010, sought a political comeback after being embroiled in several corruption scandals. Bolsonaro’s critics accused him of mishandling the Covid pandemic and allowing rampant deforestation in the Amazon. The two candidates are polar opposites; Lula is a left-wing former trade union leader and Bolsonaro is a right-wing populist and former army captain
Political tensions were high in the run-up to the vote, with accusations and misinformation on both sides of the campaign trail
It has been an agonising few months in Brazil. Two bitter rivals went head-to-head and a nation took sides. There was much bitterness, vitriol and division both from the candidates and their followers. That polarisation is unlikely to disappear. Congress is dominated by lawmakers loyal to Bolsonaro and Lula will face an uphill struggle to get his policies past them. Bolsonaro supporters were confident of victory and this will be a shock to them.
But Lula supporters are relieved and happy. The overwhelming reaction among Lula voters here in Rio is one of relief. While opinion polls had predicted a Lula win from the start, many had lost confidence in them after Lula’s advantage in the first round had been much slimmer than expected.