Lula president again: what lies ahead for Brazil?

Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva of the left-wing Partido dos Trabalhadores was elected as Brazil's new president on Sunday. Lula, who already served as president from 2002 to 2010, will take over the leadership of Latin America's largest economy from the right-wing populist Jair Bolsonaro. Commentators in Europe's press examine what the change of government means for the country's domestic and foreign policies.

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Birgün (TR) /

A lesson for the left worldwide

Lula's election victory can be seen as a lesson for left and social democratic parties across the world, Birgün comments with joy:

“As Lula's election shows, it is in the hands of the left to create a dynamic that mobilises the masses in an environment where neoliberal policies have exacerbated economic, political and social crises and unemployment is rampant. ... Despite all the shortcomings and failures, there are many reasons to be optimistic and rejoice. Lula's announcement that he wants to eliminate inequality, restore the welfare state and strengthen social policies is instructive for other left and social democratic leaders worldwide.”

Expresso (PT) /

Minimal leeway

Expresso outlines the obstacles the newly elected president will face in parliament:

“The party will soon be over as the elections to Congress and the Senate have, as usual, favoured the right. Since there is a large radicalised group in this right it will make almost everything impossible for Lula. He will have to negotiate with this sector. So he has to do what all Brazilian presidents of recent times have done and for which the Partido dos Trabalhadores, and only it, has paid a high price: win over MPs who cannot be convinced with ideas and arguments alone. That's how sick the political system is in Brazil. Lula doesn't even have enough reliable deputies to prevent impeachment. And he needs far more than that.”

Ilta-Sanomat (FI) /

Hope for the rainforests

The change of government could have a significant impact on Brazil's climate policy, writes Ilta-Sanomat:

“Although Lula faces difficulties, his victory bodes well for the climate and the Amazon rainforest - provided he keeps his election promises. He has promised to reverse Bolsonaro's environmental policies and launch an ambitious climate programme. This is sure to go down well at the major UN climate conference that starts next week in Egypt.”

St. Galler Tagblatt (CH) /

What a contrast to Europe

The election outcome in Brazil holds out hope to left-wing and progressive forces in Europe, analyses the St. Galler Tagblatt:

“Regionally, Lula's election consolidates a trend. Now the five largest economies in Latin America - Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia and Chile - are all led by progressive or left-wing governments. In this respect, Latin America stands in contrast above all to much of Europe, where right-wing and far-right positions and illiberal ideologies are on the rise. In Europe in particular, but also in the US, liberal forces are seeking global allies who are willing to take a constructive approach to addressing universal problems such as environmental and climate protection.”

Krytyka Polityczna (PL) /

For dialogue with Russia and against isolation

People in Latin America tend to take a different view of Russia than they do in Eastern and Central Europe, Krytyka Polityczna observes:

“In our part of the world, doubts are emerging about the Brazilian approach to the war in Ukraine. Like Bolsonaro and most of the leaders and inhabitants of the Global South, Lula does not see Russian imperialism as a threat and mainly advocates dialogue. This attitude is widespread in the region and is particularly evident in the statements of the Argentinian-born pope. In the context of the war in Ukraine, however, it should be added that Lula is a pragmatic politician and hence is unlikely to form an anti-US or anti-NATO coalition. He will, however, probably speak out against isolating Russia.”

BBC (GB) /

Country remains polarised

Election winner Lula will have a hard time following through on his plans, BBC News comments:

“It has been an agonising few months in Brazil. Two bitter rivals went head-to-head and a nation took sides. There was much bitterness, vitriol and division both from the candidates and their followers. That polarisation is unlikely to disappear. Congress is dominated by lawmakers loyal to Bolsonaro and Lula will face an uphill struggle to get his policies past them. Bolsonaro supporters were confident of victory and this will be a shock to them.”

Avgi (GR) /

It's uphill from here

The left-wing daily Avgi also points to the challenges Lula faces:

“Now comes the confrontation with reality. Things will not be easy for the new president. The economy is in a tragic state, the coffers are empty, inflation is soaring, the deindustrialisation of the past decades has left many people unemployed and with nowhere to turn. The National Congress is right-wing and will certainly try to prevent any attempt at democratic or social reform. The divisions on which Bolsonaro staked 'all his money' by fomenting hatred against the left will not be overcome overnight. ... And the far-right digital opposition will not let up.”

Le Monde (FR) /

Fears of a Brazilian Capitol attack clone

Le Monde has its doubts about whether Bolsonaro's camp will allow a smooth handover of power:

“The question now is whether Jair Bolsonaro will accept the verdict of the ballot box. After all, since the return to democracy in 1985 he is the first president to run for a second term and not be re-elected. After repeatedly launching attacks on the 'fraudulent' electronic ballot box system he said on Friday: 'The one with the most votes wins. That's democracy' - but he was not convincing. Many fear a Brazilian version of the Capitol attack in Washington on 6 January 2021 after Donald Trump's defeat.”