Progressives worldwide celebrated leftist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s victory Sunday in Brazil’s presidential election as a major win for the climate, workers, and democracy itself, all of which were threatened by the policies and actions of far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro, who has yet to concede the race.
“Six years ago, the coup against Dilma Rousseff ushered in a dark period in Latin America’s largest country,” DiEM25, a pan-European pro-democracy movement, said in a statement Monday, referring to the 2016 ouster of Lula’s presidential successor and ally. “A darkness that deepened with the political imprisonment of Lula, and culminated with the election of Jair Bolsonaro and the disastrous — and criminal — acts perpetrated by him during his presidency.”
“Now, Brazilian people have chosen hope over fear, and solidarity over hate,” DiEM25 added. “Lula’s victory is one for the poorest, for women, for indigenous peoples — and, ultimately, for all of us around the world concerned with the protection of Brazil’s invaluable ecosystems as part of the crucial fight against climate change.”
The campaign went on to note that Brazil’s presidential contest — which proceeded to a runoff after neither candidate won the 50%+ needed to secure outright victory earlier this month — “was marked by political violence and by Bolsonaro’s suggestions that he would not respect the election’s results if he lost.”
“DiEM25, and its political parties MERA25 in Greece and in Germany, urge all progressives in Europe to unequivocally denounce any attempt by Bolsonaro to subvert what is widely recognized as one of the most efficient and trustworthy electoral processes in the world,” the movement added.
DiEM25’s message was echoed by progressives across the globe, including in the United States, where Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and other lawmakers had warned that Bolsonaro’s assault on Brazil’s voting system and baseless claims of fraud could culminate in violence similar to the January 6, 2021 assault on the U.S. Capitol.
“Today, the people of Brazil have voted for democracy, workers’ rights, and environmental sanity,” said Sanders, who helped secure Senate passage of a resolution calling on the U.S. government to oppose any subversion of Brazil’s democratic process.
“I congratulate Lula on his hard-fought victory and look forward to a strong and prosperous relationship between the United States and Brazil,” Sanders added.
U.K. Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn wrote on Twitter that Lula’s win represents “a victory for social justice, Indigenous rights, and the future of humanity.”
Congratulations to @LulaOficial on winning Brazil’s historic election.
This is a victory for social justice, Indigenous rights and the future of humanity.
The global struggle for equality, democracy and peace goes on. Lula’s triumph proves that, together, we can win.
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) October 30, 2022
The jubilation in the streets of Brazil, applause from global progressives, and congratulations from leaders in Latin America and around the world contrasted sharply with the silence from Bolsonaro in the wake of his narrow loss.
The incumbent, defeated after one term in office that brought massive destruction to the Amazon rainforest and a catastrophic pandemic response, declined to speak Sunday night and has not publicly accepted the outcome amid concerns that he could falsely claim Lula’s late surge is evidence of fraud.
As the Associated Press reported, “Bolsonaro had been leading throughout the first half of the count and, as soon as da Silva overtook him, cars in the streets of downtown São Paulo began honking their horns. People in the streets of Rio de Janeiro’s Ipanema neighborhood could be heard shouting, ‘It turned!'”
Soon after the final results came in, Brazil’s presidential palace went dark, with Bolsonaro holed up and refusing to address the media or his supporters.
Ultimately, Lula — a former metalworker and union leader who previously served as Brazil’s president from 2003 to 2011 — won roughly 2 million more votes than Bolsonaro and is set to take office on January 1.
“So far, Bolsonaro has not called me to recognize my victory, and I don’t know if he will call or if he will recognize my victory,” Lula told supporters late Sunday.
The president-elect, who has vowed to prioritize the fight against hunger and poverty, added that “today, the only winner is the Brazilian people.”
“This isn’t a victory of mine or the Workers’ Party, nor the parties that supported me in campaign,” Lula said. “It’s the victory of a democratic movement that formed above political parties, personal interests, and ideologies so that democracy came out victorious.”