Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva vowed Sunday to govern a reunified Brazil after beating far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro in a tight runoff on Sunday for the presidency.
With 99.99% of the ballots counted, Lula garnered 50.9%, receiving 60,345,421 votes, according to data from the Supreme Electoral Court. Bolsonaro received 49.1% or 57,976,538 votes.
Following what some have called the country’s most important polls since its return to democracy, Lula addressed his supporters in Sao Paulo, calling for unity as he pledged to fight hunger and tough action against deforestation in the Amazon.
"My friends. As of Jan. 1, 2023, I will govern for 215 million Brazilians, and not just for those who voted for me. There are not two Brazils. We are a single country, a single people, a great nation," he said.
His comments followed what some have described as Brazil's most divisive and polarizing presidential race in recent decades.
Lula acknowledged that Brazil is "in a very difficult situation" and also insisted it is time to move away from hate.
"We will find a way out so that this country can live democratically and harmoniously again," he said. "No one is interested in living in a divided country, in a permanent state of war."
Lula described the fight against hunger as his "most urgent commitment" after Brazil returned this year to the United Nations’ Hunger Map after eight years, with 33 million citizens experiencing hunger.
"If we are the world’s third largest producer of food and the biggest producer of animal protein, if we have technology and an immensity of arable land, if we are able to export to the whole world, we have a duty to ensure that every Brazilian can have breakfast, lunch and dinner every day,” he said.
Lula, whose prominent Bolsa Familia welfare program helped slash extreme poverty and drive economic opportunities during his previous tenure as president, spoke of the need to strengthen social programs again.
During Bolsonaro's tenure, many environmentalists and defenders of Indigenous peoples and their land rights denounced the far-right leader’s policies, insisting he had removed environmental protections in the Amazon, resulting in vast ecological destruction.
Lula promised to reduce deforestation in the Amazon by 80% and to "fight for zero deforestation" there.
"Brazil and the planet need a living Amazon. A standing tree is worth more than tons of wood illegally extracted by those who think only of easy profit at the expense of the deterioration of life on Earth."