Lula defeats Bolsonaro in Brazil’s runoff election

Brazilian presidential candidate for the leftist Workers Party (PT) and former President (2003-2010), Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (C), gestures during a press conference with the international press, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on August 22, 2022. (Photo by Miguel SCHINCARIOL / AFP) (Photo by MIGUEL SCHINCARIOL/AFP via Getty Images)
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SAO PAULO, Oct 30 (Reuters) – Former leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva won Brazil’s bitterly-fought election on Sunday, according to pollster Datafolha, denying far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro a second term.

The polling firm called the election with 95% of the votes counted in Latin America’s largest country. The official count stood at 50.7% of votes for Lula against 49.3% for Bolsonaro.

A significant number of votes still remained to be counted in the Bolsonaro stronghold state of Sao Paulo, but his leftist rival was inching ahead in a runoff marred by accusations from Lula’s Workers Party that police suppressed votes in some regions.

The election serves as a referendum on two starkly different – and vehemently opposed – visions for Brazil’s future.

Bolsonaro has vowed to consolidate a sharp rightward turn in Brazilian politics after a presidency that witnessed one of the world’s deadliest outbreaks of COVID-19 in the pandemic and widespread deforestation in the Amazon basin.

Lula promises more social and environmental responsibility, recalling the rising prosperity of his 2003-2010 presidency, before corruption scandals tarnished his Workers Party.

Bolsonaro has without proof described the voting system as fraud-prone, raising concern he may not concede defeat, following the example of his ideological ally, former U.S. President Donald Trump.

That has added to tensions in Brazil’s most polarizing election since its return to democracy in 1985 after a military dictatorship that Lula, a former union leader, rallied against and Bolsonaro, a former army captain, invokes with nostalgia.