Ex-president and once-convicted criminal Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is now the president-elect for a third term in Brazil after electoral authorities announced his victory Sunday evening.
The socialist emerged the winner over incumbent conservative Jair Bolsonaro by a little over a percentage point, which represents roughly 2 million Brazilian votes. He had previously served as president from 2003 to 2011.
I send my congratulations to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on his election to be the next president of Brazil following free, fair, and credible elections. I look forward to working together to continue the cooperation between our two countries in the months and years ahead.
— President Biden (@POTUS) October 31, 2022
But what voters had to ignore — and enough did — were charges against Lula and the Workers Party over a widespread influence peddling and kickback operation with a powerful Brazilian construction firm.
After counting 99% of the votes, Lula was the choice of 50.9% of voters, which is about 60.3 million votes. Bolsonaro received 49.1% of the tally, or roughly 58.2 million votes.
Brazilian media reported the presidential election to be the nation’s closest since 1989.
The incumbent lost despite winning the majority in both Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro. He was also the overwhelming selection in the Venezuelan border area of Roraima.
This region’s population has swelled with refugees from the failed socialist regime in Venezuela.
At one time, the former president faced nine separate criminal prosecutions. Lula was ultimately convicted on corruption and money laundering charges concerning $1.2 million in renovations to his beach property by the company.
Brazil’s Supreme Federal Court upheld the conviction, but it was later overturned on two technicalities. The court ruled that Lula’s judge was biased in the case and did not have jurisdiction.
The decision did not address the evidence against the defendant or the appeals court that upheld Lula’s conviction. The former president served 580 days of his 12-year sentence before being released.
He was in prison when Bolsonaro won his election as president.
In the wake of Sunday’s announcement, U.S. President Joe Biden congratulated Lula for winning a “free, fair, and credible election” and expressed his optimism for working with the new administration.
After his victory, the president-elect gave a speech in which he accused his opponents of attempting to bury him alive. He then, however, called for national unity.