Brazil's veteran leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was elected president Sunday by a narrow margin, beating his far-right rival in a down-to-the-wire contest that split the country in two, election officials announced.
The former president, who won a third term in office, stood neck-and-neck with incumbent Jair Bolsonaro throughout a nail-biting count, though he emerged victorious with 50.83 percent of the vote to 49.17 percent for his rival, according to election authorities.
Bolsonaro finished much closer than pollsters had predicted in the previous first-round election on October 2, with 43 percent of the vote to 48 percent for Lula. Accordingly, many pollsters anticipated that the run-off race would be tight.
Lula, who governed Brazil from 2003 to 2010, has the support of the poorest, those who resented Bolsonaro's policies, including youth, women and racial minorities.
Throughout his campaign, Lula highlighted his previous socioeconomic achievements, such as lifting more than 30 million Brazilians out of poverty thanks to social initiatives financed with revenues generated from a boom in raw materials.
This third term may prove more challenging. Although the economy shows signs of improvement, macroeconomic factors make the present moment a far cry from the prosperity of the 2000s.
Nor will it be easy for Lula in Congress, where recent victories have resulted in conservative majorities.