SAO PAULO/BRASILIA, Oct 31 (Reuters) – Brazil’s leftist leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva narrowly beat President Jair Bolsonaro in a run-off election, but the far-right incumbent refused to concede defeat late on Sunday, a move that could see him challenge the result. caused concern. .
The Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) declared Lula the next president with 50.9% of the vote to Bolsonaro’s 49.1%. The inauguration of 77-year-old Lula is scheduled for January 1.
It was a stunning comeback for the left-wing former president and a punishing blow to Bolsonaro, Brazil’s first president to lose a presidential election.
“So far, Bolsonaro has not called to recognize my victory and I don’t know if he will call or recognize my victory,” Lula told tens of thousands of supporters celebrating his victory on Sao Paulo’s Paulista Avenue.
In contrast to Bolsonaro’s silence, congratulations to Lula came from foreign leaders including US President Joe Biden, Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron.
A Bolsonaro campaign source told Reuters the president would not make a public statement until Monday. Bolsonaro’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Bolsonaro publicly discussed refusing to accept the results of the vote last year, making unsubstantiated claims that Brazil’s electronic voting system was vulnerable to fraud.
One close Bolsonaro ally, lawmaker Carla Zambelli, nodded at the results, tweeting: “I PROMISE YOU I will be the biggest opposition Lula ever imagined.”
Financial markets could be in for a volatile week, with investors weighing speculation about Lula’s cabinet and the threat of Bolsonaro questioning the results.
The vote was a criticism of the far-right populism of Bolsonaro, who emerged from the backbenches of Congress to form a new conservative coalition but has lost support as Brazil has one of the worst death tolls from the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden joined a chorus of praise from European and Latin American leaders in congratulating Lula on her victory in a “free, fair and credible election.”
International election observers said Sunday’s election was effective. One observer told Reuters that military auditors found no flaws in the integrity of the voting system.
On Sunday, truck drivers believed to be supporters of Bolsonaro blocked highways in four locations in the state of Mato Grosso, a major grain producer, according to the highway operator.
In one video that went viral, a man said truckers were calling for a military coup and planning to block major highways to prevent Lula from taking office.
RISE OF RED WATER
Lula’s victory cemented a new “pink wave” in Latin America after important left-wing victories in elections in Colombia and Chile, echoing the regional political shift two decades ago that catapulted Lula onto the world stage.
During his two terms as president from 2003 to 2010, he promised to return to the kind of economic growth and social policies that helped lift millions out of poverty. He also pledged to fight the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. and make Brazil a leader in global climate negotiations.
Ana Valeria Doria, a 60-year-old doctor in Rio de Janeiro, said: “These have been four years of hatred, four years of denying science.” “Running a department in this country will not be easy for Lula. But right now it is pure bliss.” Born into poverty, Lula, a former union leader, organized strikes against Brazil’s military government in the 1970s. His two-term presidency was marked by commodity-based economic growth, and he left office with record popularity.
However, his Labor Party was later hit by a deep recession and a record-breaking corruption scandal that saw him jailed for 19 months on a bribery conviction that was overturned by the Supreme Court last year.
Anthony Boadle and Ricardo Brito in Brazil, Brian Ellsworth and Lisandra Paraguas in Sao Paulo (Reporting by Brad Haynes, Lincoln Feast and Nick McPhee)
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