Left leader Lula defeats far-right Bolsonaro to win Brazil presidency again

Brazil’s former leftist president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, has sealed a political comeback, beating the far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro in one of the most significant elections in the country’s history.

With 99.97% of votes counted, Silva, a former factory worker who became Brazil’s first working-class president exactly 20 years ago, had secured 50.9% of the vote.

Bolsonaro who was elected in 2018, received 49.10%.

“We are going to live new times of peace, love and hope,” said the 77-year-old Lula.

“I will govern for 215m Brazilians … and not just for those who voted for me. There are not two Brazils. We are one country, one people – a great nation,” he said to applause. “It is in nobody’s interests to live in a country that is divided and in a constant state of war.”

Meanwhile incumbent Jair Bolsonaro is still not conceding defeat there were concerns the far-right contender might challenge the result.

Bolsonaro had been leading throughout the first half of the vote count, but as soon as Lula took the lead, the streets of Sao Paulo’s city centre filled with the sound of cars honking their horns.

The election was Brazil’s most polarising poll since its return to democracy in 1985 after a military dictatorship that Lula, a former union leader, has rallied against and Bolsonaro, a former army captain, invokes with nostalgia.