SAO PAULO, Brazil – Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a former left-wing president, was ranked first place on Sunday in Brazil’s presidential election but was not able to garner enough votes for an undisputed victory. He’ll now have to take on the right-wing incumbent Jair Bolsonaro in an Oct. 30 run-off.
Although pre-election polls showed da Silva, who is well-known as Lula the Lula, a lead of two digits it was a fussy one. In reality, da Silva trailed for long periods of time before finally gaining ground and taking home 47.9 percent of the votes, with approximately 97% of the votes that were counted. Bolsonaro was the president. Bolsonaro was second, with 43.6 percent in the race with 11 candidates.
The voting on Sunday was mostly calm after a heated and sometimes violent campaign during which the country’s democratic system seemed to be in doubt. Bolsonaro has been a vocal advocate for the military dictatorship that ruled Brazil and has repeatedly questioned his legitimacy in the vote when it was getting closer and his polling numbers were sluggish.
“Lula represents democracy,” said Julia Sottili, a museum employee who voted da Silva because of what she called Bolsonaro’s dictatorial tendencies. “Lula wants to improve people’s lives and end hunger. He is really concerned about human rights.”
The polls for the presidential election showed da Silva within striking distance of being elected president in the first round, winning more than half the votes. However, he fell short by a narrow margin. Brazil had to endure four weeks of intensive campaigning.
However, the outcome was a validation to da Silva, who became the hero of the majority of Brazilians during his presidency from 2003 and 2010, when a commodity-driven boom brought millions of people out of poverty.
After his departure from office, the politician was entangled in a massive corruption scandal that put him in jail for a year and a half. Their political career was a shambles. In a dramatic turn of events, he was dismissed for a technicality in the year 2019 and announced his candidacy for president -six times that he’s run for the post.
However, Bolsonaro’s 2nd-place result in the Sunday race was a somber outcome for the president whose erratic behavior and decisions have cost him votes.
Bolsonaro was elected in the year 2004 by a coalition of evangelical Christians, gun owners, and other conservatives attracted to his vow to defend traditional family values. They also were dissatisfied with the corruption scandals that were circling da Silva and his left-wing Workers Party.
However, Bolsonaro at 67 has been through a rough four-year tenure as president. He flubbed the COVID-19 epidemic and Brazil ended up having one of the highest COVID death rates in the world, second only to the U.S. Brazil is struggling with a slow economy, high unemployment, and inflation, as well as increasing poverty.
Bolsonaro was adamant for months about the legitimacy of the Brazilian electoral process. He asked the military to supervise the count of votes and even suggested that he may not step down from the presidency even if he loses. In the days leading up to the election, Bolsonaro posted on his Twitter account the video of former president Donald Trump urging people to vote for Bolsonaro.
This provided an opportunity for da Silva, who is now 76 years old and has survived the battle against throat cancer. In his campaign, he declared a return to the good times in the economy during his first two years and presented himself as the person who can save Brazil’s democracy by beating Bolsonaro