With claims of election fraud by Bolsonaro supporters, and Lula da Silva supporters celebrating in the streets for a president who has already served, see IMAGO’s coverage of Brazil’s election results.
Brazil’s run-off elections have sealed the victory for Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva who defeated incumbent Jair Bolsonaro, who has been called the “Trump of the Tropics,” 50.9 percent against 49.1 percent. Both have served as presidents, both are controversial in their own rights, and both have supporters who could in some ways be considered more of a fan-base. IMAGO’s coverage of the reaction to Brazil’s election results reveal a sense of deja vu:
It feels that we’re either replaying when Donald Trump lost the United States elections two Novembers ago, or when Brazil won the World Cup. On one hand, many Bolsonaro supporters are not accepting the results amidst claims of election fraud in a similar vein to the 2020 Trump defeat, and on the other hand, Lula supporters are celebrating in the streets as if their country’s football team had just become world champions. With the World Cup just around the corner, football may be the one thing uniting one of the most polarized countries today – time will tell if fans can put their gaping political differences aside for their undying love of football.
With Bolsonaro supporters protesting the results and demanding an intervention, many are rallying and waving the Brazilian flag – some in tears, some praying, some high-fiving police officers. Some were even filmed doing a Nazi salute in front of a military office in Sao Miguel do Oeste, which is now being investigated by Brazilian authorities. Meanwhile on the left side of the political spectrum, tears are also being shed, but these ones are tears of joy in celebrating Brazil’s election results.
Bolsonaro, who remained silent for 48 hours after the results, has been accused of genocide in his handeling of Covid-19, his environmental policies which are worsening the situation in the Amazon Rainforest creating devastating impacts on indigenous communities, and for exacerbating an economic crisis which is threatening job and food security across the nation, for example. He has been accused of racist hate speech online and has a massively loyal following of the extreme-right political spectrum.
While expected to turn things around for Brazil with hopes high, leftist-leader Lula da Silva does come with some baggage. After establishing the Worker’s Party and later serving two terms as president between 2002 and 2010, he was caught up in corruption accusations in what is known as ‘Operation Car Wash’ which started to unfold in 2014. After being sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2017, consistently claiming his innocence and even campaigning from his cell during the 2018 election to no avail, the Supreme Court overturned his corruption convictions in 2021.
Now reflected on the motto ‘rebuild Brazil,’ Lula claims to bring Brazil out of the economic crisis, but his victory has not come without controversy. He has been criticized for lack of a concrete economic plan, and most recently for his statement saying that Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky shares the blame for Russia’s invasion, for example.
The celebrations and rallies in reaction to Brazil’s election results may eventually fizzle out, but the political divide in Brazilian society will remain. Lula’s first steps will reveal what was behind his hard-fought campaigning. But for now, Brazilians from either side are grabbing their flares, flags and tissues for an emotionally charged week in the polarized country with the world’s attention. IMAGO’s coverage shows the chaotic and divisive socio-political landscape unfolding in Brazil.
Other previous articles on Brazil include:
Article and image selections by Sofia Bergmann.