Brazil’s run-off elections have sealed the victory for Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva who defeated incumbent Jair Bolsonaro, who has been called the “Trump of the Tropics,” 50.9 percent against 49.1 percent. Both have served as presidents, both are controversial in their own rights, and both have supporters who could in some ways be considered more of a fan-base. IMAGO’s coverage of the reaction to Brazil’s election results reveal a sense of deja vu:

It feels that we’re either replaying when Donald Trump lost the United States elections two Novembers ago, or when Brazil won the World Cup. On one hand, many Bolsonaro supporters are not accepting the results amidst claims of election fraud in a similar vein to the 2020 Trump defeat, and on the other hand, Lula supporters are celebrating in the streets as if their country’s football team had just become world champions. With the World Cup just around the corner, football may be the one thing uniting one of the most polarized countries today – time will tell if fans can put their gaping political differences aside for their undying love of football. 

With Bolsonaro supporters protesting the results and demanding an intervention, many are rallying and waving the Brazilian flag – some in tears, some praying, some high-fiving police officers. Some were even filmed doing a Nazi salute in front of a military office in Sao Miguel do Oeste, which is now being investigated by Brazilian authorities. Meanwhile on the left side of the political spectrum, tears are also being shed, but these ones are tears of joy in celebrating Brazil’s election results.  

IMAGO/ZUMA Wire
IMAGO / ZUMA Wire / Ivan Abreu | Supporters of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Brazil's president-elect, play music and celebrate at Praca Sete Square in Belo Horizonte. 30 October, 2022.
IMAGO/Fotoarena
IMAGO / Fotoarena / Vincent Bosson | Celebration of the victory of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva for the presidency of the Republic of Brazil, on Avenida Paulista, in São Paulo. 30 October, 2022.
IMAGO/Xinhua
IMAGO / Xinhua / Lucio Tavora | A supporter of Brazil's current President Jair Bolsonaro weeps after votes counted during presidential election in Brasilia, Brazil. 30 October, 2022.

Bolsonaro, who remained silent for 48 hours after the results, has been accused of genocide in his handeling of Covid-19, his environmental policies which are worsening the situation in the Amazon Rainforest creating devastating impacts on indigenous communities, and for exacerbating an economic crisis which is threatening job and food security across the nation, for example. He has been accused of racist hate speech online and has a massively loyal following of the extreme-right political spectrum. 

While expected to turn things around for Brazil with hopes high, leftist-leader Lula da Silva does come with some baggage. After establishing the Worker’s Party and later serving two terms as president between 2002 and 2010, he was caught up in corruption accusations in what is known as ‘Operation Car Wash’ which started to unfold in 2014. After being sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2017, consistently claiming his innocence and even campaigning from his cell during the 2018 election to no avail, the Supreme Court overturned his corruption convictions in 2021. 

Now reflected on the motto ‘rebuild Brazil,’ Lula claims to bring Brazil out of the economic crisis, but his victory has not come without controversy. He has been criticized for lack of a concrete economic plan, and most recently for his statement saying that Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky shares the blame for Russia’s invasion, for example. 

The celebrations and rallies in reaction to Brazil’s election results may eventually fizzle out, but the political divide in Brazilian society will remain. Lula’s first steps will reveal what was behind his hard-fought campaigning. But for now, Brazilians from either side are grabbing their flares, flags and tissues for an emotionally charged week in the polarized country with the world’s attention. IMAGO’s coverage shows the chaotic and divisive socio-political landscape unfolding in Brazil. 

See our curated collections and coverage from the IMAGO Picture Desk.

IMAGO/TheNews2
IMAGO / TheNews2 / Erica Martin | Supporters of the elected president of Brazil Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva celebrate their victory after counting the votes at Largo da Prainha, in port area of Rio de Janeiro. 30 October, 2022.
IMAGO/NurPhoto
IMAGO / NurPhoto / Gustavo Basso | Brazilians celebrate in the streets of Sao Paulo the victory of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to the presidency. 30 October, 2022.
IMAGO/ZUMA Wire
IMAGO / Zuma Wire / Ellan Lustosa | Voters of Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, celebrate his victory in Rio de Janeiro. 30 October, 2022.
IMAGO/ZUMA Wire
IMAGO / ZUMA Wire / Ellan Lustosa | Voters of candidate Bolsonaro dissatisfied with the defeat at the polls protest asking for federal intervention. Rio De Janeiro Brazil. 2 November, 2022.
IMAGO/NurPhoto
IMAGO / NurPhoto / Ivan Abreu | Brazilians in an electronics store watch Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil s president, speaking during a press conference. 1 November, 2022.
IMAGO/ZUMA Wire
IMAGO / Zuma Wire / Fabio Teixeira | Many displayed anti-democratic banners during celebrations for the Bicentennial of Independence where Bolsonaro took the stage and went down to speak with supporters on Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro. 2 November, 2022.
IMAGO/ZUMA Wire
IMAGO / ZUMA Wire / Ellan Lustosa | Voters of candidate Bolsonaro dissatisfied with the defeat at the polls protest asking for federal intervention. Rio De Janeiro Brazil. 2 November, 2022.
IMAGO/Fotoarena
IMAGO / Fotoarena / Filipe Bispo | Protesters supporting Jair Bolsonaro question the result favoring Lula by closing the main street of the city asking for military intervention in front of the barracks of the Brazilian Army in Belem. 31 October, 2022.
IMAGO/ZUMA Wire
IMAGO / Zuma Wire / Igor do Vale | During runoff of the presidential elections in Franca, Sao Paulo, Brazil. 30 October 30, 2022.
IMAGO/ZUMA Wire
IMAGO / ZUMA Wire / Ellan Lustosa | Voters of candidate Bolsonaro dissatisfied with the defeat at the polls protest asking for federal intervention. Rio De Janeiro Brazil. 2 November, 2022.
IMAGO/Fotoarena
IMAGO / Fotoarena / Francisco Alves | On this electoral night of the second round of the presidential elections, voters of Lula celebrated his 3rd victory at the former headquarters of the Workers Party. 30 October, 2022.
IMAGO/NurPhoto
IMAGO / NurPhoto / Gustavo Basso | Brazilians celebrate in the streets of Sao Paulo the victory of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to the presidency. 30 October, 2022.
IMAGO/Fotoarena
IMAGO / Fotoarena / Eliane Neves | The second round for choosing governors and President of the Republic of Brazil for the 2022 elections takes place. 30 October, 2022.
IMAGO/Fotoarena
IMAGO / Fotoarena / Ton Molina | Lula voters celebrating the victory for president of Brazil in Brasilia. 30 October, 2022.
IMAGO/Fotoarena
IMAGO / Fotoarena / Vincent Bosson | Celebration of the victory of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva for the presidency of the Republic of Brazil on Avenida Paulista, in São Paulo. 30 October, 2022.
 Article and image selections by Sofia Bergmann.