Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, veteran leftist is the new president of Brazil. He defeated incumbent far right President Jair Bolsonaro by a narrow margin of 50.90 per cent.
After the victory, Lula said, “today the only winner is the Brazilian people.” He further said that the victory was not his or the Workers’ Party nor the parties that supported him in campaign but was a victory of a democratic movement that formed above political parties, personal interests and ideologies so that democracy came out victorious.
BRAZIL; THE SIGNBIFICANCE OF LULA VICTORY
The contest between Lula and Bolsonaro had sharply divided Brazil. A former trade union activist, Lula banked on his past record during the campaign. High commodity prices and a global economic boom in the early 2000s allowed Lula to fund generous anti-poverty campaigns and won him much popularity.
Bolsonaro presented himself as a defender of conservative values. “God, family and country” went his slogan. While veteran leftist leader Lula was once expected to win by a handy margin, Bolsonaro gained quickly in the polls and forced a runoff election.
Disinformation and political violence became a depressingly common affair during the campaigning. Right wing leader Bolsonaro claimed that Brazil’s electronic voting systems are susceptible to fraud. Bolsonaro, who opposes legaised abortion and pro-LGBTQ policies, has also accused Lula of plotting to close churches. Meanwhile, Bolsonaro has been bizarrely accused of cannibalism.
More worry was with respect to Bolsonaro’s environmental policy. During his earlier stint, deforestation had increased substantially. The Amazonian rainforest has seen intensive deforestation and resource exploitation. Lula has promised the equivalent of a green new deal and a complete overhaul of environmental policy.
WHO IS LULA DA SILVA?
Growing up in deep poverty, he was the seventh of eight children born to a family of illiterate farmers in northeastern state of Pernambuco. When he was seven, his family joined a wave of migration to the industrial heartland of Sao Paulo. He worked as a shoeshine boy and peanut vendor before becoming a metalworker at the age of 14. However, he rose quickly to become head of his trade union, and led major strikes in the 1970s that challenged the then-military dictatorship. In 1980, he co-founded the Workers’ Party, standing as its candidate for president nine years later.
After losing three presidential bids from 1989 to 1998, Lula became Brazil’s president for two terms from 2003 to 2006 and then 2007 to 2011. During this period, the country saw a massive commodities boom, which paid for sweeping social welfare programmes that are credited with having raised millions of people out of poverty.
He was much popular which is quite reflected in 2010 when he had to leave office as Brazilian law did not allow a third consecutive presidential term despite he had an approval rating of 90 per cent. Soon after leaving office, Lula had to fight cancer of the throat, and his successor in the post, Dilma Rousseff, was impeached and removed from office in 2016. The following year, Lula was convicted of charges of corruption and money laundering in an investigation into the working of the state-run oil giant Petrobras.
In 2018, a year before Bolsonaro came to power, Lula started to serve a 12-year sentence in prison. However, in March 2021, after 580 days Lula’s conviction was overturned by Brazil’s Supreme Court that paved his way for return to political life.
WELCOME NOTE FROM THE WORLD
A host of world leaders welcomed his election. India Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Joe Biden, President Macron of France and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued congratulatory statements. “Long live Lula” tweeted Colombian President Gustavo Petro while Chilean President Gabriel Boric Font simply said “Lula. Joy!”.