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  • Aurora Proietti

Lula returns to the Planalto Palace

Some refer to him as the “biggest thief in the history of Brazil”, others say he is “what Brazil needs to thrive”, but the ultimate question is, will he be able to govern?

Former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, 77, was elected on October 30th, as the 39th President of the Republic of Brazil. The workers party (the PT), who had already ruled the country for two terms between 2003 and 2010, beat president Jair Bolsonaro and his party the Liberal Party (the PL) in the second round with a difference of nearly 2 million votes, the smallest since re-democratization — with 99.98% of the polls counted, Lula has 50.90% of the votes. He is the first to be elected president of the Republic three times, while Bolsonaro became the first incumbent to be defeated in search of re-election.

In 2018, Lula was convicted of money laundering and passive corruption, and in 2021 he had the three sentences annulled by STF Minister Edson Fachin, due to an understanding of the procedural error of the forum. Nonetheless, the 580 days spent in prison were reason enough for many Brazilians to suspect he will not be an upstanding president. The scandal ruined exceedingly the public’s trust in Mr. Lula, and on top of that, Mr. Bolsonaro's supporters claim the election was rigged.

But despite that, the hardest role for Mr. Lula is yet to come, as he will be facing a stunted economy and a weakened political power. Brazil has drastically changed since Mr. Lula last governed. He will be inheriting a struggling economy, a presidency with less mobility, and an internet-dominated society where the uttermost population regards him as a thief.

The economic pressures of high inflation, high unemployment and low growth that underpinned the government of Jair Bolsonaro will continue to be active. They will look for ways to continue to move with the new government and provide economic facilities. The benefits of easy profit will stimulate the backstage of power, appealing with the nonsense that often ends up being answered “in the name of governability”.

Mr. Lula spoke of “governing for the whole nation” and of “making decisions to please society”. Brazil hopes that Mr. Lula will dedicate himself to closing the divide between Brazilians – northerners and southerners – whites and blacks, men and women, leftists and rightists, using his wide experience of governing the country. After his victory, Mr. Lula gave a speech promising he will rule for peace and unity within the country: “This country needs peace and unity. These people don't want to fight anymore. These people are tired of seeing in the other an enemy to be feared or destroyed. It is time to lay down the weapons that should never have been wielded. Guns kill. And we choose life.”

Now it’s time to hope. Regardless of who voted for which candidate, Brazilians are responsible for wishing for the finest leadership possible. Brazil will benefit from growth and development in the interest of everyone. It is difficult, however, for opposers to have that mindset, especially after experiencing defeat, mutiny, and powerlessness. But it is essential to remember democracy ensures that what doesn’t work will eventually be replaced.

May Mr. Lula succeed, for the sake of Brazil.

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