Brazil’s Lula won; now for the hard part

The country is bitterly divided, short of cash.



November 3, 2022 - 3:30 PM

Brazil’s president-elect Lula on the campaign trail. (Carl De Souza/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

When Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was last in office, between 2003 and 2010, he used to quip that “God is Brazilian.” If so, the Almighty has a dark sense of humor. The presidential-election campaign that ended with a run-off on October 30th was one of the nastiest Brazil has ever endured, drenched in calumny and punctuated with violence. Lula, as the left-wing victor is known, won by a wafer-thin margin: 1.8 percentage points.

After the election tensions mounted as Jair Bolsonaro, the right-wing populist incumbent, took two days to speak. He did not explicitly concede. However, it looks likely that the transfer of power will be relatively peaceful. Protests by bolsonarista lorry drivers spread across the country, but Mr. Bolsonaro, who has previously encouraged violence, told his supporters not to block roads.

In many ways, the result is a triumph for Brazil’s democracy. The vote count was clean and Lula won fair and square. Mr. Bolsonaro has for months suggested the opposite: that the polls would be rigged and the only way Lula could win was by cheating. He should admit that he was wrong, though he probably won’t.

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