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What Lula Must Do

Facing a deeply divided country and mounting systemic global crises, Brazil's president-elect has his work cut out for him. But he can succeed if he focuses on four key priorities and leverages his country's diplomatic, economic, and environmental significance.

RIO DE JANEIRO – Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s victory over incumbent Jair Bolsonaro sends a powerful message to the rest of the world. Though he won only narrowly, Lula, as he is known, succeeded by building a broad democratic coalition spanning from the far left to the center right.

Facing a deeply divided country, the president-elect is now setting the tone for the four-year term that will begin in January 2023. In his victory speech, he promised to establish a civil, inclusive, conciliatory, and green government. And by calling for healing and solidarity, he offered a sharp contrast to his predecessor’s divisive rhetoric.

Make no mistake: Lula will face tremendous headwinds in governing the world’s fourth-largest democracy. Although his convictions were annulled, many Brazilians are outraged that a man formerly implicated in corruption scandals is returning to the presidency. Lula also will have to deal with a sizable far-right bloc of legislators, daunting economic challenges, and a simmering culture war unleashed by Bolsonaro and his militant supporters.