The former president is the new president – and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva owes his wafer-thin election victory mainly to the fact that many Brazilians see him as the lesser evil.
During his tenure, President Jair Bolsonaro, who was voted out of office, primarily divided society with his hate speech, left people alone in the pandemic and cut education budgets.
But there is also great skepticism about Lula: only a small but loyal minority sees the 77-year-old as a good president. After all, Lula is politically responsible for the gigantic corruption scandal.
To this day he has denied any involvement. He did not present a convincing economic program. He still defends dictatorships like Cuba or Venezuela.
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Nevertheless: Lula is a self-confessed supporter of democracy – and with his election victory has stopped the increasing erosion of democracies in the West for the time being. That’s a signal coming from the fifth largest country in the world.
In a second presidency of right-wing populist Bolsonaro, Brazilian democracy might have suffered irreparable damage. Also to the detriment of the economy, which many entrepreneurs and investors still do not want to admit.
What issues Bolsanoro failed on
With Lula as President, Brazil’s foreign policy isolation should be over. With his catastrophic environmental policy, his unconcealed admiration for Trump, Putin and Co. and his personal insults to counterparts such as French President Macron, Bolsonaro has become persona non grata in Europe and the United States.
Lula will certainly try to revive the once good relations with Europe. He will want to play in the top league again when it comes to climate policy and environmental protection, but also other issues of global politics such as trade. As he did under his government from 2003 to 2010.
It helps him that his political reputation abroad is much better than in Brazil itself.
>> Read here: World trade “Bolsonaro’s main obstacle is gone” – EU sees new impetus for Mercosur trade agreement
Lula faces an extremely difficult tenure. The conservative bloc in Congress and the states will not make governing easy for him. That is why he is dependent on foreign support.
Above all, Europe should seize the opportunity – and above all promote free trade. Because just as Lula can use the support of the West, a stable and strengthened democratic partner in Latin America is extremely important for Europe. If we hesitate again to deal seriously with Brazil, other interested nations are ready, such as China.
More: Lula wins runoff in Brazil and becomes president for a third time