Lula da Silva will govern Brazil for the third time, an unprecedented event since the democratic recovery of the South American power, which places him at a level of political myth perhaps only comparable by his level of influence to Getulio Vargas.
With more than 98% of the votes counted, the Superior Electoral Court confirmed shortly before 8:00 p.m. that Lula was the new president of Brazil, winning by almost two million votes over Jair Bolsonaro. But the number of votes should not confuse, the end was very close and once again the polls that predicted a victory for the PT leader by between 2 and 4 points were wrong.
“Lula will not be a strong president, he will be a survivor”
In the end, Lula managed to win by just a point and a half, thus confirming that Brazil is absolutely polarized, which predicts an enormous challenge for Lula’s third government. Bolsonaro secures very important blocs in Congress and key governorships such as San Pablo, where the Bolsonarist Tarcisio Gómez de Freitas defeated Fernando Haddad, of the PT, by 10 points. It is a strong blow for Lula because it is his political cradle and he also opted for Haddad thinking about the 2026 succession.
Tarcisio, the great winner of the opposition, acknowledged Lula’s victory and said that “they will be able to agree” on the management. Likewise, he confirmed that he spoke with Bolsonaro’s vice candidate, Walter Souza Braga Netto, and hinted that there will be no resistance from Bolsonarism.
The president of Bolsonaro’s party evaluates an agreement with Lula, if he is elected
However, President Onyx Lorenzoni’s candidate lost in Rio Grande do Sul to current Governor Eduardo Leite, of the PSDB. The Tucano leader had received the support of Lula and is positioned as a presidential candidate for 2026.
On the other hand, Lula managed to retain Bahia, one of the iconic bastions of the PT, with Jerónimo who beat ACM Netto, from Union Brasil (Centrao) by 4 points.
Earlier serious incidents were reported in Rio de Janeiro and the Northeast when the Police decided not to abide by the order of the Superior Electoral Court and arbitrarily detained more than 500 groups with Workers’ Party voters. In some cases, the operation was very violent and the police cracked down on those inside.
Lula’s command denounced a coup attempt by Bolsonaro but the president of the TSE, Alexander de Moraes, clarified that none of the groups returned to their origin and all went to the voting centers.
Lula’s third presidency will be full of challenges that are far from easy. In the first place, the Brazilian economy is forecast to grow only one percent by 2023 and although fuel prices have deflated in recent months, the worrying rise is in food. Unlike the first administration of Lula, Brazil has its main companies dismantled, privatized and transnationalized and a much more unfavorable international context as a result of the war in Ukraine.
In addition, Bolsonaro’s economic measures to recover votes in the most humble sectors, such as Aid Brazil and other subsidies, are estimated to generate a fiscal bomb that will force Lula to take measures to adjust or increase taxes to improve collection.
“Bolsonaro’s government was disastrous for democracy and human rights”
For that, the economic team must be announced quickly to give peace of mind in the markets and avoid a volatility scenario, as LPO anticipated, the names that add up are of a technical and liberal profile. His commitment to a reasonable economic model must coincide with his promise to remove Brazil from the hunger map and implement social policies similar to those of his first term.
Another complicated front on the horizon is the relationship with Congress. The Liberal Party that brought Bolsonaro to the presidency achieved an important bloc in both Deputies and Senators and together with the Centrao, a conservative bloc that manages the parliamentary majorities and holds the key to the budgets and impeachment, they add up to a majority of almost 300 in a system where the magic number is 250.
However, as revealed by the LPO, a sector of the Liberal Party and other Centrao parties are willing to talk with the new president. The president of the Chamber of Deputies Arthur Lira, of the Progressive Party, an ally of Bolsonaro and with leaders that make up the cabinet such as the Chief of Staff Ciro Nogueira, recognized the result of the elections. This is a very important support for the new stage that opens in Brazil.
In institutional terms, there are practically no potholes left. Lira, the president of the Senate Rodrigo Pacheco and the Supreme Court accepted the results of the elections.
Another question that still runs through the Brazilian present will be the role of the Armed Forces and the military that landed in the Brazilian political system since the arrival of Bolsonaro. For that, the new president will have to appoint a defense minister who can restore a dialogue that has been cut off for a long time.
One point in Lula’s favor is international support. Joe Biden was quick to send his support and recognition and everything indicates that the White House’s top National Security adviser, Jake Sullivan, will be part of a transition that everything indicates will be conflictive.
Along the same lines, the Frenchman Emmanuel Macron, Pedro Sánchez, the Chilean Gabriel Boric, Gustavo Petro from Colombia, Alberto Fernández, Luis Lacalle Pou, Pedro Castillo from Peru, the Mexican leader López Obrador and the Secretary General of the OAS, Luis Almagro.
The next stage will not have Bolsonaro in the Planalto Palace, but it will have a mobilized Bolsonaro movement that chose him as the undisputed leader and with the capacity to react to any reform that is attempted. This marks the degree of division and polarization of Brazilian society. It is clear that one of Lula’s missions is work for reconciliation and union of a divided society.
Lula made reference to this issue in his victory speech where he stressed that “the defense of the Constitution, dialogue with Congress and governors regardless of their party affiliation and emphasized that “the Brazilian flag only belongs to the Brazilian people.” I will govern for those who voted for me, but for all Brazilians,” he concluded.
Lula’s victory has a symbolic and narrative side given that three years ago he was imprisoned and without political rights. That made his campaign, the last of his political career, include a degree of wear and tear that is noticeable on the body of the new president. Given this, sources very close to Lula confirmed to LPO that his intention is to meet on Tuesday with all his allies and only the following week will there be confirmations regarding the names of the future Cabinet. We will have to wait if the times of his rest coincide with those who expect signs of predictability regarding what will come in the future.
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