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Changing of the guard

Lula da Silva defeats Jair Bolsonaro in Brazilian presidential election

Bolsonaro has been Brazil’s president for the past four years but has been defeated by the leftist challenger.

VETERAN UNION LEADER and former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has won Brazil’s presidential election, defeating incumbent Jair Bolsonaro. 

The run-off between the leftist challenger and the incumbent far-right populist has seen Brazil’s 215 million people deeply divided and this friction was borne out in a very tight result. 

Brazil’s election is counted electronically and about 120 million votes were counted within hours of polls closing. 

With over 99.5% of votes counted, Lula was shown to have a 50.9% to 49.1% lead over Bolsonoro. 

Official figures from Brazil’s electoral authorities have said this represents a mathmatically unsurmountable lead. 

Tweeting after the result was official, Lula’s account simply said: “Democracy.”

Before today’s election, Bolsonaro has cast doubt over the electoral process and said he would only accept the results of a “fair” election, prompting fears that his supporters would not accept a defeat. 

Lula served as Brazil’s president for two terms from 2003-2010 and presided over a period of unprecendeted economic growth for the country. 

Term-limited, he left office amid soaring popularity until corruption scandals within his adminstration and his Workers’ Party turned Brazilian politics on its head. 

In 2017, Lula was convicted on corruption charges and was sentenced to 9.5 years in prison. The following year, Bolsonaro was elected as president on a programme that promised to crack down on corruption. 

Last year, Brazil’s Supreme Court ruled that the court which tried Lula for corruption did not have the correct jurisdiction and his conviction was nullified. 

This allowed Lula to run again, setting the showdown with Bolsonaro that concluded today in the country’s run-off vote. 

Bolsonaro’s period in office was marked by a rapid expansion of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest and a tragic loss of life in Brazil from Covid-19, with some 688,000 people dying with the virus. 

Lula, 77, narrowly won the first-round election on 2 October and entered today’s finale the slight favorite with 52% of voter support to 48% for Bolsonaro. 

Although Bolsonaro has out-polled those figures and run the race slightly closer, he becomes the first Brazilian president to fail to be re-elected. 

Earlier today, thousands of Brazilians living in Ireland cast their ballots at Croke Park as part of the election. 

Results from this Ireland-based Brazilian contingent showed overwhelming support for Lula, who won 81.8% of the vote to Bolsonaro’s 18.2%.

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