Jair Bolsonaro loses knife-edge Brazil election as ex-president Lula da Silva storms back into power with narrow victory

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BRAZILIAN President Jair Bolsonaro has lost his knife-edge re-election fight as his bitter rival stormed back into power tonight.

Lula da Silva – who previously served as Brazil’s President from 2003 to 2010 – edged out the incumbent by less than 2 per cent to complete a historic comeback just a year after he was released from prison.

Nearly 120 million people took to the polls to cast a ballot in one of the most polarised elections in the nation’s recent history.

Lula’s winning margin was the closest since 1989, as he won 50.9 per cent of the national vote to Bolsonaro’s 49.1 per cent.

The razor-thin election saw the two candidates trade barbs for months in a bitter campaign.

Incumbent-President Bolsonaro led the voting for much of the night as he won the southern regions of Sao Paulo and Rio de Jeneiro.

But his far-left rival took the lead with significant wins in the north-east of the country, eventually toppling the president by more than two million votes.

The polarised election was decided upon the key issues of inflation, poverty, and the environment, with each candidate seen as presenting vastly differing views on the future of the country.

Lula’s stunning political comeback comes following his release from prison just last year after he was snared in Brazil’s largest ever corruption scandal.

He had previously left office as one of the country’s most popular leaders ever with an approval rating that reached 90 per cent.

But in 2017 he was among hundreds of high ranking politicians and businessmen to be caught up in a controversial corruption probe, and was put behind bars for corruption and money laundering.

A court later threw out his conviction in March 2021, clearing the way for his astonishing comeback to the presidency.

In his victory speech tonight, Lula declared that his win was a sign “to the world that Brazil is back”.

He promised that his presidency would be marked by “a relentless fight against racism, prejudice and discrimination so that whites and blacks and indigenous people have the same rights and the same opportunities.

“This is a victory for a democratic movement, above the interests of parties and ideologies”, he added.

Following the result, world leaders were quick to send congratulations to the new leader – amid fears that Bolsonaro would follow through on statements that he would contest any “abnormal” result.

US President Joe Biden praised Lula’s win “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,” he added.

Bolsonaro’s defeat comes after he quickly emerged as one of the most controversial leaders on the world stage when he took the hot seat in 2019.

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