Lula’s victory in Brazil reaffirms democracy and represents a return to progress
by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR)
The victory of Workers’ Party candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in the second round of Brazil’s elections represents a historic victory for democracy and Brazil’s democratic institutions, and heralds a return to progress, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) Co-Director Mark Weisbrot said today. Brazil’s electoral authority, the Superior Electoral Tribunal (TSE) reported that Lula won by more than two million votes.
“Brazilians have chosen hope over fear and hate,” Weisbrot said. “Lula was the country’s most popular president ever, and for good reason: under his presidency, the country returned to economic progress including increased employment, wage growth, and poverty reduction, after more than two decades of deep economic failure.
“Bolsonaro should immediately concede, since there is no doubt about the election results, and he repeatedly alleged that a Lula victory would have to be fraudulent and he would not accept the results, creating fears of post-election violence.”
Bolsonaro has encouraged violence against minorities, praised military dictatorship and torture, and was excoriated for his response to the COVID pandemic that left hundreds of thousands of Brazilians dead.
Lula’s victory comes despite some 560 police roadblocks and other actions that impeded voters’ travel to polling stations early in the day, especially in the country’s northeast — traditionally a Lula and Workers’ Party stronghold area.
President Biden, Mexico’s president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Colombian president Gustavo Petro, French president Emmanuel Macron, and the German government, among others, all quickly congratulated Lula on his victory.
Lula’s return to the presidency will follow six years of attacks on Brazil’s democratic institutions that have included a coup d’etat under the guise of impeachment, the judicial persecution of Lula in 2018 that successfully kept him off the ballot (and allowed Bolsonaro to become president), the assassination of Rio city council member Marielle Franco, numerous extrajudicial killings by police, politically motivated murders and other violence against Workers’ Party supporters, persecution of Brazil’s most prominent LGBT politician (which forced him into exile), Bolsonaro’s attacks on the integrity of the electoral system, and more.
Lula’s legacy was smeared, however, by false criminal charges of corruption pursued by a highly politicized investigation overseen by a prosecutor, Sérgio Moro, who ultimately succeeded in having Lula jailed in 2018 based on the testimony of a sole convict whose prison sentence was reduced in exchange for his testimony. With Lula thus prevented from running in the 2018 elections, Bolsonaro ended up winning, and appointed Moro minister of justice. Lula’s conviction was later annulled.
“Despite the violence leading up to election day, despite the misinformation, and despite the distrust in the integrity of the electoral authority pushed by Bolsonaro, it seems that democracy and the will of the voters prevailed,” CEPR Director of International Programs Alex Main, who is in Brazil as an election observer, said. “The mood is celebratory. Most Brazilians clearly want to leave the Bolsonaro era behind and return to the promise of the Lula years.”
“Lula’s election represents a real likelihood of a return to regional integration, especially via the Union of South American Nations, where Brazil acted as an important leader under its previous Workers’ Party governments,” CEPR senior policy analyst Guillaume Long, who recently coauthored a report on the prospects for relaunching UNASUR, said. “Brazil has much to gain from better economic, political, and cultural ties to its regional neighbors, and Lula has already suggested he may return Brazil to UNASUR were he to be elected.”
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