Lula Defeats Bolsonaro in Brazil, a Crucial Win for the Amazon Rainforest
A tense presidential election runoff in Brazil has led to a victory for left-wing candidate and former president Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva against the far-right incumbent, President Jair Bolsonaro. But as of Monday, October 31, Bolsonaro has not conceded. Lula is scheduled to be inaugurated on January 1, 2023.
In the initial election, Lula earned 48.4% of votes, and Bolsonaro received 43.2%. With neither party taking more than 50%, the election went into a runoff scheduled for October 30. In the runoff election, Lula won 50.9% of the votes, while Bolsonaro received 49.1% of votes. Bolsonaro is the first incumbent president of Brazil to not win re-election.
Bolsonaro has not yet conceded at the time of writing and has previously made statements regarding voting fraud, leaving some concern on the transition of power.
“So far, Bolsonaro has not called me to recognize my victory, and I don’t know if he will call or if he will recognize my victory,” Lula told his supporters on Paulista Avenue in São Paulo.
During voting, truckers believed to be Bolsonaro supporters blocked highways. Nasdaq reported that in one online video, a person said truckers were planning to block highways and were calling for a military coup to prevent Lula from becoming president. According to Time, analysts say it is unlikely for military leaders to allow Bolsonaro to attempt a coup. The Guardian reported that a close ally to Bolsonaro, evangelical preacher Damares Alves, tweeted that “Bolsonaro will leave the presidency in January with his head held high.”
Lula’s win is especially crucial for the Amazon rainforest. He hopes to designate 193,000 square miles of the rainforest with protected status, decrease deforestation and offer subsidizing for sustainable farms. He also hopes to form an alliance for rainforest protection among Brazil, Democratic Republic of Congo and Indonesia. During his presidency in 2003 to 2010, Amazon rainforest deforestation decreased. Comparatively, over 13,000 square miles of Amazon rainforest were deforested during Bolsonaro’s four years as president.
“The socio-environmental and climate agenda is one of the places where Lula will need to act fast and firmly,” the Observatório do Clima said in a statement. “Stopping the slaughter of indigenous peoples and the devastation of the Amazon will require countering powerful gangs and, very often, the interests of allies and supporters in local governments and the Parliament. Expelling criminals from indigenous lands and reversing runaway deforestation are urgent measures, and necessary to for recover the Brazilian government’s credibility before its own people and the international community.”