December 2, 2022

BRAZILIAN AXE: Bolsonaro’s big loss is a huge hope for democracy around the world

BRAZILIAN AXE: Bolsonaro's big loss is a huge hope for democracy around the world

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Da Silva declared victor. Bolsonaro yet to concede. Sound familiar?

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Two million Brazilian votes might sound like a lot, but it was a razor-thin margin of victory for Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva out of some 119 million votes cast.

“It’s astonishing to me how it was this tight,” Jacqueline Cantore, a TV producer from Rio told Occupy. “I imagined that if one just listened to [Bolsonaro] talk [it] would be enough, but no. And that is so scary. Democracies are truly in peril.”

She added that Bolsonaro had been trying to boost his chances by artificially keeping gas prices down.

There are reports now as well that his campaign might have used its influence with the police to block off roads and making voting more difficult in his opponent’s strongholds.

If he did, it did not work.

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In his victory speech, Lula spoke of unity, expressing a desire to bring to an end the bitter feuding that accompanied this election, stating his desire to represent all of the people, regardless of who they voted for.

Yet he condemned Bolsonaro’s right-wing, anti-democratic tendencies: “On this historic October 30, the majority of Brazilians made clear that they want more and not less democracy; that they want more and not less social inclusion and opportunities for all; they want more and not less understanding among Brazilians. To summarize: they want more and not less freedom, equality, fraternity in our country.”

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Lula is not a figure untouched by corruption. He was convicted of taking bribes as part of the Odebrecht scandal that shook Brazil under Dilma Rousseff and was initially sentenced to nine years in prison (later extended to twelve years), preventing him from running against Bolsonaro in 2018.

Odebrecht is a massive infrastructure firm that admitted in 2016 to dispersing hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes in Brazil and several other countries. Brazil’s Supreme Court annulled Lula’s conviction after it determined that the court that made the ruling did not have proper jurisdiction and that the judge in the case had been biased against him. Still, it’s likely that the president-elect was indeed touched by this scandal.

Nonetheless, Lula remained fairly popular in Brazil and his election is a welcome relief to democratic leaders, many of whom were quick to offer their congratulations.

President Alberto Fernández of Argentina said that Lula’s election marked “a new era of hope.” Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico called it a win for “equality and humanism.”

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President Biden not only offered congratulations, but tried to preempt any accusations of election rigging by Bolsonaro:

There’s good reason to be concerned. Like Donald Trump, Bolsonaro is not likely to admit defeat so easily, and he’s said to have many allies in the army.

A key date to watch is November 15, when Brazil celebrates its proclamation of the republic (like July 4th for them). Some fear it could be their January 6th. Lula is scheduled to take office on New Year’s Day. Hopefully, that will happen.

Dirty Donald and his minions probably hate Ross. And so you should like him on Twitter! @RossRosenfeld

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