PM expresses 'great enthusiasm' over election in Brazil of new president Lula da Silva
Image: Sky News UK

PM expresses ‘great enthusiasm’ over election in Brazil of new president Lula da Silva 

Lula returns for a third mandate narrowly beating country’s right-wing president

Late last night Portugal’s prime minister António Costa tweeted that he has already had the opportunity to “warmly congratulate” Lula da Silva on his election as president of Brazil, expressing “great enthusiasm” at the prospect of the pair working together in the coming years.

According to official results released by Brazil’s Superior Electoral Court (TSE), Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva – a former two-term president of Brazil – won Sunday’s presidential election second round, defeating right-wing incumbent, Jair Bolsonaro, by what has been described in the international press as a “razor-thin margin”.

As secretary-general of Portugal’s governing Socialist Party (PS), Costa has made no bones of his support for Lula (as the veteran politician is best known).

It was at around 11 pm Lisbon time last night that Brazil’s electoral observation system (ETS) declared the election to be mathematically over. With 99.17% of votes from polling stations counted, the Workers’ Party candidate Lula da Silva had 50.85% of the votes, against 49.15% for Bolsonaro.

Lula has in the past served two terms as president, between 2003 and 2011. He has also spent over a year in jail – between 2017-2019 – after being convicted on charges of money-laundering and corruption in the convoluted case known as ‘Lava Jato’ (Car Wash). His sentence was meant to run for nine-and-a-half years, but in November 2019, Brazil’s Supreme Federal Court ruled that incarcerations with pending appeals were unlawful, and Lula was released as a result. In March 2021, the same court ruled that the judge who had overseen Lula’s trial was biased against him, thus all convictions were annulled.

Also delighted with last night’s result is foreign affairs minister João Gomes Cravinho who tweeted, with emojis of the flags of Portugal and Brazil and a handshake: “Greetings to the Brazilian people for the election of the new President of the Republic @LulaOficial. Congratulations for the democratic example! Portugal is and always will be an active and committed partner and ally of Brazil.”

Mr Gomes Cravinho followed up his tweet with another, stressing his optimism following Lula’s victory speech, in which the 77-year-old pledged “zero deforestation” in the Amazon “a fundamental measure in the combat of climate change and against species loss”.

According to reports, Lula will have to wait until January 1, 2023, to be officially sworn in as Brazil’s new leader – and then there are the concerns that the next couple of months will not be ‘easy’.

There are fears Mr Bolsonaro could challenge the election results should he lose – much like former US President Donald Trump, reports Sky News.

For months, he claimed the nation’s electronic voting machines are prone to fraud, though he has never presented evidence, says the station.

Here Público reports that “the lights are off in the presidential palace“, Bolsonaro “is not receiving ministers or answering phone calls”. He has also not yet officially conceded defeat.

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com