SAO PAULO ― President Joe Biden congratulated former leftist Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on his victory in the country’s presidential election Sunday night that also lauded the elections as “free, fair, and credible elections.”
The congratulatory statement from the White House came less than an hour after Brazil’s electoral authorities declared da Silva, who formerly led Brazil from 2003 to 2010, as the winner of the race against right-wing incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro.
Bolsonaro has spent the last two years spreading conspiracy theories in an attempt to undermine the elections. Da Silva and his campaign, along with many officials within Brazil, saw swift international recognition of the results as key to blunting any potential attempt from Bolsonaro to contest the results.
Da Silva finished roughly 2 million votes ahead of Bolsonaro in a race that was a key test of Brazil’s democracy, which Bolsonaro has spent his presidency trying to undermine. Bolsonaro, an ally of former U.S. President Donald Trump, never congratulated or recognized Biden’s 2020 election victory and continued to question it ahead of his first meeting with his U.S. counterpart this summer.
Folha de S.Paulo, one of Brazil’s largest newspapers, reported Sunday that the Biden administration also planned to send National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan to Brazil in the coming weeks, a move the paper interpreted as meant to help bolster the legitimacy of the election and ensure a smooth transition.
Da Silva has pledged to rebuild international relationships that have frayed under Bolsonaro, and on Saturday said that he would seek to travel to the United States early in his presidency.
He hailed his return to the presidency as a victory for the world’s fourth-largest democracy in his first speech as president-elect Sunday night.
“The majority of the Brazilian people made it clear that they want more, not less, democracy,” da Silva said in his first speech as president-elect. “They want more social inclusion, not less. They want more, not less, equality and fraternity in our country.”