In just three years, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has gone from prisoner to president-elect. After being jailed on corruption charges, the left-wing da Silva engineered a stunning political resurrection on Sunday by winning Brazil’s presidential runoff election — in a nail-biter — over right-wing incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro. Da Silva and Bolsonaro were the two top finishers in a first round of presidential voting on Oct. 2 that featured 11 candidates. But neither da Silva nor Bolsonaro secured more than half the votes required for an outright victory, forcing this weekend’s runoff election.

“I’m really happy,” said Victor Costelo, 33, who works in advertising, as he celebrated on the streets of Sao Paulo that were crowded with da Silva supporters, many of them wearing the red colors of his Workers Party. After four years of Bolsonaro, who Costelo described as an authoritarian, he said, “the next four years will be more hopeful for us.”

Lula became ensnared in a wide-ranging bribery scandal that landed him in prison for 580 days. His political career appeared to be over. But he was released on a technicality in 2019 and launched yet another run for the presidency that quickly garnered enthusiastic support.
His victory will help consolidate a leftward shift in Latin America where, from Mexico to Argentina, the biggest countries are run by leftist presidents. World leaders were quick to congratulate da Silva on his victory.