Brazilians celebrated in the subway when they heard Lula won Credit: Photo courtesy of Eduardo Adami

The second round of Brazil’s presidential elections saw an impressive win for former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on Sunday, Oct. 30.

Lula’s defeat of the far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro was close, with Lula receiving 50.8% of the vote to 49.2% for Bolsonaro. And when Lula’s victory was announced, cheers could be heard in the streets, reports Rio de Janeiro-based lawyer Humberto Adami. “We are very grateful. The day was beautiful, and the emotion was like something you’d find during a World Cup final!”

Adami, the former president of the National Truth Commission on Black Slavery/Comissão da Verdade da Escravidão Negra, told the AmNews: “As President Lula’s victory unfolded, people in several buildings screamed as if it were a goal. The important thing is that the end of the Bolsonaro government is near. Regrettably, the fight against racism and the struggle for reparations for Black slavery was left out of the presidential campaign. In the final TV debate, it wasn’t even a topic that either candidate chose for questions. So, the struggle continues.”

During Lula’s prior two terms as Brazil’s president, from 2003 to 2010, his Partido dos Trabalhadores/Workers Party (PT) implemented social justice policies that benefited the nation’s Black community. Some 29 million Brazilians were able to escape extreme poverty and enter the middle class during Lula’s previous presidency. In the governing plan submitted when he was a candidate for the presidency, Lula wrote: “Brazilian society needs to believe again in its capacity to change the course of history, to overcome a profound social, humanitarian, political and economic crisis, aggravated by a government, which neglected the effects of the pandemic, and was largely responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths. Brazil deserves and can change for the better, for our people have already shown what they are capable of. Government must be the great stimulator of the multi-sector agreements and partnerships necessary for the reconstruction of our country.”

After his Sunday, Oct. 30 victory, Lula tweeted: “Beginning January 1, 2023, I will govern for 215 million Brazilians, and not only for those who voted for me. There are not two Brazils. We are one country, one people, one great nation.”

As Lula puts together a new cabinet for his third presidential term, many will pay attention to who he appoints to serve in key roles that could again transform Brazilian society.

Jair Bolsonaro is now the first president to ever lose re-election in Brazil. He pointedly did not speak about his election loss for 48 hours. When he finally spoke about it on Nov. 1 he neither conceded defeat nor challenged the results of his lost bid for reelection. Bolsonaro simply said he would “continue to fulfill all the commandments of our constitution.”

Commentators are suggesting that the real issue will be what happens when Brazil celebrates the transition of power that takes place on January 1.

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