Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's narrow electoral victory over incumbent Jair Bolsonaro completes one of the more amazing comebacks since the Risen of Lazarus. The immense corruption scandal that came to light in 2014 and affected almost the entire political and economic elite in Brazil also dragged the former trade union leader, who was president from 2003 to 2010 during the boom years of the emerging regional power, into the abyss.
In 2017 he was sentenced to prison. Even if the Brazilian Supreme Court overturned this sentence due to various procedural errors, Lula's legacy seemed permanently damaged. Without the Brazilians' massive annoyance at the self-service mentality of their ruling left, the right-wing populist backbench Bolsonaro would hardly have been elected president.
Despite a stray and polarizing policy that cared neither about the climate crisis nor about minorities and certainly not about the sensitivities of liberals, Bolsonaro almost managed to stay in office. Lula's lead is 1.8 percentage points, which corresponds to 2.14 million votes.
Since the reintroduction of democracy in Brazil, no election has been closer. On election night, Bolsonaro made no move to admit defeat. Apparently he went to sleep.
Brazil is divided ideologically and regionally – and not unlike the United States in that respect. Lula is ahead in the large states of the northeast, while Bolsonaro has achieved clear majorities in the economically strong states of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, as well as in the south and west. To the shudder of climate-concerned Europeans, he also won in five out of nine Amazon states - whose deforestation he massively promoted.
There are not two Brazils, only one, proclaimed election winner Lula in his victory speech. No one is interested in living in a family where there is constant "dissension". People are tired of seeing each other as enemies, Lula said. In the face of a brutally polemical election campaign by both camps, that sounded like a pious wish.
Nevertheless, Lula promised that he would also govern for those Brazilians who had not voted for him. For the 77-year-old, in his third term, this will now be the greatest challenge of his career.
Jair Bolsonaro loses the presidential election in Brazil. He has not yet commented, he could possibly challenge Lula da Silva's victory. "In the run-up, he made contradictory statements," says Brazil correspondent Tobias Kaufer.