“Progressives around the world can take inspiration from Lula’s victory over far-right hate, from the mass movements who mobilised against Bolsonaro, and from Lula himself – fighting on from a prison cell to the presidential office.”
By Patrick Foley, Brazil Solidarity Initiative
Celebrations are sweeping across Brazil following Lula’s historic victory in the Presidential election over incumbent far-right Jair Bolsonaro.
With 98.8% of the vote counted, Lula has won the election by over two million votes, beating Bolsonaro by 50.8% to 49.2%.
Lula and the Brazilian Workers Party (PT) overcame an orchestrated misinformation and smear campaign, political violence aimed at Lula’s supporters, and continued attacks on the electoral system from the far-right.
This continued on election day itself with disturbing reports that the Federal Highway Police set up roadblocks in areas with strong Lula support to stop them getting to the polls. But this was not enough to sway the 60 million Brazilians voting for the former Trade Union leader and Workers’ Party leader Lula.
For Lula, this represents a remarkable turnaround from the last election, where he was political persecuted, jailed and removed from standing despite polling as the clear favourite at the time of his arrest.
The relatively unknown Bolsonaro was a distant second in the polls but he went on to win the election – with the judge that sentenced Lula’s appointed Minister of Justice after the far-right president’s inauguration.
After a year and a half in prison and a hard-fought Lula Livre (Free Lula) campaign, Lula’s conviction was annulled with audio and text conversations released showing that the charges against him were politically motivated and aimed at stopping his candidacy. Lula’s political persecution was a direct attack on Brazilian democracy and this crucial information that was poorly reported or simply ignored by much of the international coverage.
After four years of disastrous far-right rule that has seen record levels of deforestation, a steep rise in racist and homophobic hate crime, and a criminally negligent response to the pandemic, last night’s election was a chance for Brazil to begin to set things right.
This vote represents a public desire to return to the social progress and transformative political program witnessed under Lula’s first two terms in office from 2003 to 2011, where health, education, and workers’ rights were massively expended, while ground-break social programs saw millions lifted from poverty.
Progressives around the world can take inspiration from Lula’s victory over far-right hate, from the mass movements who mobilised against Bolsonaro over the last four years, and from Lula himself – fighting on from a prison cell to the presidential office.
The work of the international community must now be to support Brazilian democracy from far-right attempts to undermine the election results. Bolsonaro and his far-right allies have been claiming fraud and attacking the electoral system in the run up to the vote, and fears grow of a Capitol Hill style attack on democracy before Lula’s inauguration.
But for now, we can celebrate. On Monday, November 7th the Brazil Solidarity Initiative is hosting an online celebration of Lula and the millions of Brazilians who campaigned to make this election victory possible. Featuring a first-hand account from Jeremy Corbyn, who visited Brazil as an observer to the second round vote.
- “Rally: Celebrating Lula’s Victory – Building Solidarity” takes place online on Monday November 7th at 7PM with Jeremy Corbyn; Nathalia Urban, Brasil Wire; Julia Felmanas, Brazilian Workers Party London Coordinator; and more. Register here.
- Patrick Foley is the Coordinator of the Brazil Solidarity Initiative, you can follow them on Facebook and twitter.