Lula wins Brazil’s presidential poll

LuizInácio Lula da Silva has won Brazil’s presidential election by a whisker, but with incumbent, Jair Bolsonaro, still not conceding defeat as there were concerns the far-right contender might challenge the result.

According to the country’s election authority, Lula secured 50.8 percent of the votes compared with the 49.2 percent secured by Bolsonaro on Sunday.

 “Today the only winner is the Brazilian people,” da Silva told the crowds gathered at a Sao Paulo hotel. “This isn’t a victory of mine or the Workers’ Party, nor the parties that supported me in campaign. It’s the victory of a democratic movement that formed above political parties, personal interests and ideologies so that democracy came out victorious.”

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.

People in Rio de Janeiro’s Ipanemaneighbourhood could be heard shouting, “It turned!”

“He’s the best for the poor, especially in the countryside,” said a retired government worker,Luiz Carlos Gomes, 65, who comes from Maranhao state in the poor northeast region. “We were always starving before him.”

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, invoked with nostalgia.

The vote also marked the first time that the sitting president failed to win re-election. Just over two million votes separated the two candidates; the previous closest race in 2014 was decided by a margin of roughly 3.5 million votes.

It is a tradition in Brazil for the losing candidate to speak first and accept the election loss, but hours after the authorities had named Lula the winner, Bolsonaro had made no public statement on the outcome.

“So far, Bolsonaro has not called me to recognise my victory, and I don’t know if he will call or if he will recognise my victory,” Lula told tens of thousands of jubilant supporters celebrating his win on Sao Paulo’s Paulista Ave.

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The 67-year-old Bolsonaro has previously claimed, without proof, that the voting system was at risk of fraud.

A source in the Bolsonaro campaign told the Reuters news agency that he would not make public remarks until Monday.

Electoral authorities are bracing for him to dispute the outcome, separate sources told Reuters, and had made security preparations in case of protests by his supporters. -]AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

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