Lula scores a very significant victory - GulfToday

Lula scores a very significant victory

Lula Da Silva

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has pulled off a narrow victory over right-wing Jair Bolsonaro in Sunday’s runoff in Brazil’s presidential election. Lula had 50.9 per cent of the vote and Bolsonaro 49.1 per cent. But in actual votes it turned out to be a difference of two million votes. In the preliminary round Lula failed to get the mandatory 50 per cent. He had about 47 per cent to Bolsonaro’s 43 per cent. In the final reckoning, Bolsonaro has given a stiff fight and the margin of victory for Lula was quite narrow. But there is jubilation in Brazil and in the rest of Latin America that a leftist has won because Bolsonaro became the typical right-wing president, who mishandled the Covid-19 pandemic in the country because he refused to accept that Covid was a deadly pandemic much like former US president Donald Trump. Bolsonaro suffered from Covid but even that would not convince him. As a result of his refusal to deal with the nationwide medical emergency things got worse. Brazil Covid death toll was 688,000 out of the total cases of more than 30 million Covid cases. Similarly, as an obdurate right-winger, Bolsonaro refused to accept the calamitous impact of the destruction of the Amazon rain forest, and allowed developers to devastate the natural asset. Lula’s victory will end the wrongheaded policy decisions of Bolsonaro, and hence the unprecedented joy among the people, especially the working class and the poor.

Lula da Silva declared after his victory that he is the president of all Brazilians, including those who did not vote for him. He understands the deep division that Bolsonaro’s politics has created in the country, and Lula understands the imperative of uniting the country. Bolsonaro, like Trump, has refused to concede defeat, and he has not congratulated Lula so far. There have been protests by Bolsonaro’s supporters, especially the truckers, who form a key constituent of Bolsonaro’s support base. And there is even talk of a military coup. Lula is set to take over as president on January 1, and he has already begun to take decisions. Including sending a Brazilian delegation to Cop27, the climate meet being held in Sharm Al-Shaikh in Egypt this month.

Surprisingly, United States President Joe Biden congratulated Lula on his victory and described Brazil’s presidential poll as “free, fair and credible.” Lula’s victory is seen as part of the return of the “pink tide” in South America with Chile, Colombia, Bolivia presided over by the leftist leaders. After the pandemic and the economic turmoil in its wake has pushed millions of people in the continent into misery and poverty, and they are looking for leaders who understand their plight and who will implement policies which will help them. Argentina’s president Alberto Fernandez described Lula’s victory “as a new era for the history of Latin America. A time of hope and future that begins today.” Fernandez flew into Sao Paulo to meet Lula.

Lula’s comeback becomes more significant because he had to spend 19 months in prison on corruption charges until Brazil’s Supreme Court overturned the conviction. It seemed that Lula had reached the end of his political career. And Bolsonaro with this right-wing populism looked unbeatable. The victory of Lula shows that people are tired of the free market economics of the right-wing leaders, and they want governments that care for people and who would govern on the assumption that people matter. It is not going to be easy for Lula to bring the Brazilian economy and politics back on the track because Bolsonaro conservatives remain in majority in parliament and many right-wing candidates are ruling the states. It would need all the political skills of Lula to break the stranglehold of the right-wingers over Brazilian politics.

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