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Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva brazil election
Via Instagram (@lulaoficial)

Why Lula’s presidential victory in Brazil is a win for everyone

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has beaten far-right Jair Bolsonaro in elections in Brazil – here’s why that’s good news for us all

Finally, some good news: Brazil’s former leftist president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, has beaten far-right Jair Bolsonaro in one of the most important elections in the country’s history.

Silva, a former factory worker, became Brazil’s first working-class president exactly 20 years ago. He served as president from 2003 to 2010, before becoming embroiled in several corruption scandals and serving a short stint in prison. But the Supreme Federal Court ruled in March 2021 that the judge overseeing his corruption trial – Sergio Moro – was biased, leading to all of the cases Moro brought against Lula being annulled on June 24, 2021, and paving the way for his political comeback.

The election was an exceedingly close call: Lula won after securing 50.9 per cent of the vote, while Bolsonaro received 49.1 per cent. Because of this, there’s already been some concern over flaring tensions within the polarised country, with Bolsonarista congresswoman Carla Zambelli pulling a gun on people in Sāo Paolo earlier today. Additionally, Bolsonaro is yet to concede.

But, for now, let’s focus on the positives. Here’s where Lula stands on some key issues, and why his election is not only good news for Brazil, but for the world.


During Bolsonaro’s time in office, he slashed Amazon protections, cut Brazil’s environmental budget, and fired environmental experts. Between August 1 2019 and July 31 2021, more than 8.4 million acres disappeared from the Amazon – an area larger than the entirety of Belgium.

Lula wants to reverse this. “Instead of being world leaders in deforestation, we want to be world champions in facing up to the climate crisis and in socio-environmental development,” Lula said in a letter to the Brazilian people which he penned last week. “That way we will have healthy food on our plates, clean air to breathe and water to drink and lots of quality jobs with green investment.” He’s also pledged to “fight for zero deforestation.”

This isn’t just a win for Brazil, but a win for the world. Experts have warned that the Amazon – often nicknamed the ‘lungs of the Earth’ due to its huge natural carbon stores – is nearing ‘tipping point’ thanks to Bolsonaro’s rampant deforestation. Now, with Lula back in office, there’s hope that the expansive rainforest can be brought back from the brink. Reassuringly, the new president has a good track record, too: under his previous terms in office, Amazon deforestation rates plummeted by 80 per cent.


Back in 2008, when Lula was still president, he inaugurated the First National Conference of Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, Transvestites and Transsexuals in Brazil. He called for a “time of reparation” for the Brazilian LGBTQ+ community and went on to call homophobia “the most perverse disease impregnated in the human head.”

This is totally at odds with Bolsonaro’s vicious, hateful stance on LGBTQ+ rights. The far-right president has made a whole range of false and inflammatory claims about the LGBTQ+ community in Brazil. On one occasion he claimed that “homosexual fundamentalists” were brainwashing children to “become gays and lesbians to satisfy them sexually in the future”. He’s openly used homophobic slurs and described himself as a “proud homophobe”. Disturbingly, he also once said that he would rather have a dead son than a gay one.

His rhetoric saw a deadly rise in anti-LGBTQ+ violence in Brazil. Now, Lula’s victory heralds a more inclusive era.


Bolsonaro has also spent the past four years undermining Brazil’s democracy. The outgoing president has previously expressed contempt for democratic processes and celebrated Brazil’s brutal military dictatorship, which came to an end in 1985. He’s also cast doubt on electronic voting and allowed disinformation to flourish on social media during his tenure, as well as lashed out at the Brazilian Supreme Court and Supreme Electoral Tribunal for investigating him, and filled the police with loyal allies.

Lula spoke at length about the importance of defending democracy during his election campaign. “We want to return so that no one ever dares to challenge democracy again,” he said in one speech. “And for fascism to go back to the sewers of history, where it should never have left.”

Many commentators have likened Lula’s win to a win for democracy. Following the announcement of Lula’s win, Brazil’s former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, tweeted: “Democracy has won, Brazil has won!”


Lula has also promised to bring back the economic prosperity that was seen under his last presidency. He’s pledged to bring in a more progressive tax regime, abolish the spending cap on public expenditure, increase the minimum wage, and boost social welfare spending. ​​But as the global economy inches towards recession, it’s likely Lula will face some difficulties enacting some of his more radical policies. 

But it seems Lula will rise to the challenge. During his last presidency, he launched the iconic Bolsa Familia welfare program, which provided financial aid to poor Brazilian families who had vaccinated children enrolled in education. The scheme is thought to have lifted 20 million people out of extreme poverty, and unemployment had also hit record lows by the time he left office.