Brazilian president-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva broke down in tears Monday at a ceremony ratifying his election win, which cemented the veteran leftist’s comeback for a third presidential term.
Speaking after receiving the official “diploma" declaring him the winner of Brazil’s October 30 presidential runoff, the 77-year-old ex-metalworker was overcome with emotion as he praised “the boldness of the Brazilian people in handing this document to someone who’s been attacked so many times for not having a university diploma."
Lula, who is set to be inaugurated on January 1, defeated far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro in the runoff.
It was a remarkable turnaround for the former president (2003-2010), who left office as the most popular leader in Brazil’s modern history, only to be jailed for more than 18 months on controversial charges stemming from a massive corruption investigation centered on state-run oil company Petrobras.
Lula, who denies wrongdoing, was released in November 2019.
He was cleared to run in this year’s elections when the Supreme Court annulled his convictions, finding bias by the lead judge in the case, Sergio Moro — who went on to become Bolsonaro’s justice minister.
Lula described Monday’s ceremony as a victory for democracy, after Bolsonaro baselessly attacked Brazil’s electoral system as fraud-ridden and encouraged what he called “legitimate protests" against the result.
Thousands of Bolsonaro protesters blocked roads and rallied outside army bases after his loss, calling for a military intervention to keep him in power.
“This is a celebration of true democracy," Lula said in his speech at the Superior Electoral Tribunal (TSE).
“Seldom in our country’s recent history has democracy been so threatened, seldom has the will of the people been so tested and had to overcome so many obstacles to make itself heard."
The head of the TSE, Judge Alexandre de Moraes, praised the electoral authority for “guaranteeing democratic stability and fending off criminal attacks on the pillars of constitutional government."
Lula won the bitterly divisive election by the narrowest margin in Brazil’s modern history, 50.9 percent to 49.1 percent.
Bolsonaro has not explicitly conceded defeat. But he authorized the transition process to go ahead.
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