Brazil’s former president, left-winger Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, won 48 percent of the vote in Brazil’s presidential elections on Sunday, defeating incumbent president Jair Bolsonaro, a champion of the far right whose votes remained at 43 percent, Reuters reported.
However, as neither candidate crossed the 50 percent threshold necessary to win the presidency, a run-off election will determine the Latin American country’s next president on 30 October.
Bolsonaro made several allegations of electoral fraud ahead of the elections over polls showing Lula at an advantage.
The far-right populist who admires Donald Trump has been signalling his unwillingness to accept defeat since the beginning of his election campaign. As Bolsonaro called for a violent uprising, his supporters spread fear that a coup could be in the cards if he lost.
Brazil has been battling a severe rise in extreme poverty and hunger for the last two years, leading to public outrage over soaring cost of living in the country. According to the Brazilian Research Network on Food Sovereignty and Security, 33.1 million people, about 15 percent of the country’s population, are experiencing severe food insecurity.
Critics point to Bolsonaro’s policies that led to corruption and widened the already imbalanced gap between the poor and the rich, while also downplaying the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects. Brazil has the region’s highest death toll due to coronavirus infections, and is second only to the United States globally. It is also among the worst performers per capita in the three-year-long pandemic process.
Bolsonaro incited his radicalised supporters during the campaign period, leading to increased violence in a country increasingly polarised by poverty and pandemic conditions.
One of the most crucial discussion topics of presidential candidates who are polar opposites is environmental policies.
Lula promised he would take measures to protect the Amazon, while Bolsonaro argued that some parts of the rainforest must be opened to industry for the economy to grow.
Deforestation and wildfires increased during Bolsonaro’s presidency. Climate activists fear that the region could reach a tipping point if he is re-elected.
Lula evaluates the results from an optimistic point of view, stating that his eventual victory has merely been “delayed”. He also said that he was looking forward to going head-to-head with Bolsonaro in a debate.
Lula was elected in 2002 and re-elected in 2006. The 76-year-old former metal worker could not run in the 2018 elections because the Superior Electoral Court rejected his candidacy due to his 2017 conviction on corruption charges and his following arrest for 580 days. After the charges were later annulled, Lula was released from prison in 2019, and his political rights were restored by 2021.