Lula vows to unite Brazil in tight win over Bolsonaro

STORY: Thousands of people packed the streets of Sao Paulo on Sunday, celebrating the win of president-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

It was a tight and tense run-off vote between the leftist challenger and the right-wing incumbent Jair Bolsonaro.

Brazilian TV showed the first images of Lula after declaring his win.

Lula won 50.9% of ballots compared with 49.1% for Bolsonaro, according to Brazil’s Supreme Electoral Court.

The result signalled a rebuke for the fiery far-right populism of Bolsonaro.

Some of his supporters cried as the results were confirmed.

Lula, a former president who ended two terms with record high popularity, and later fought and won corruption claims against him, promised to unite the divided country.

In his first speech after the win, Lula said the election victory showed most Brazilians “want more and not less democracy”.

He acknowledged the tough road ahead, but added:

“I have faith that with the help of the people, we will find a way out for this country to return to being democratic, peaceful, for us to support parents, families, to build the world that Brazil needs.”

Lula has vowed a return to state-driven economic growth and social policies that helped lift millions out of poverty when he was president from 2003 to 2010.

He also promises to fight destruction of the Amazon rainforest, and make Brazil a leader in global climate talks.

But in his third term, Lula will confront a sluggish economy and a more hostile legislature, with Bolsonaro's allies holding the largest bloc in Congress.

Bolsonaro, who for years has made baseless claims about fraud risks in Brazil's voting system, remained silent initially about the result.

77-year-old Lula's inauguration is scheduled for January 1.