Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is set to become the next president of Brazil, after defeating his rightwing rival, incumbent Jair Bolsonaro, by a razor-thin margin.
The leftist former leader, widely known as “Lula,” won 50.83% of the votes, with over 98% of the votes counted in a fiercely contested run-off election on Sunday.
Bolsonaro, who mustered 49.17% votes, will be denied a second term.
The two candidates had previously gone head to head in a first round of voting on October 2, but neither gained more than half of the votes, forcing Sunday’s runoff vote, which has become a referendum on two starkly different visions for Brazil.
Lula da Silva supporters thronged São Paulo Avenida Paulista on Sunday evening after polls closed. The mood was celebratory even before the results were called, with people setting off flares when he was declared winner by the country’s election authority.
Many had tears in their eyes, telling CNN that they were hopeful for the country, which has been struggling with high inflation, limited growth and rising poverty.
But others on Avenida Paulista expressed fears. Lula da Silva’s razor thin margin comes as fears mount that Bolsonaro will not accept defeat, having repeatedly claimed that Brazil’s electronic ballot system is susceptible to fraud. The entirely unfounded allegation has drawn comparisons to the false election claims of former US President Donald Trump.
Things could go very bad in Brazil this week.
Americans in particular should be paying very close attention.