US Democrats welcome Brazil election results after Bolsonaro's threats

President Joe Biden quickly extended his congratulations to the president-elect who ousted far-right Jair Bolsonaro

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US Democratic leaders moved quickly to support the credibility of Brazil's elections, after president-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva narrowly defeated far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro in a divisive election.

President Joe Biden quickly released a statement on Sunday congratulating Mr da Silva on his win “following free, fair and credible elections”.

“I look forward to working together to continue the co-operation between our two countries in the months and years ahead,” Mr Biden said.

Mr da Silva, popularly known as Lula, on Sunday defeated Mr Bolsonaro in an election that marked a stunning comeback for the leftist leader and the end of the country's most right-wing government in decades.

Results were close after a divisive election, but Brazil's Supreme Electoral Court said the results had been “mathematically defined”, with Mr da Silva gaining 50.8 per cent of votes compared with 49.2 per cent for Mr Bolsonaro.

In a Monday phone call with Mr da Silva, Mr Biden also "commended the strength of Brazilian democratic institutions", the White House said.

Gregory Meeks, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, echoed Mr Biden's nod to election credibility in his congratulatory statement, calling the win “a new chapter” in relations between Washington and Brasilia.

“I’m heartened to see the people’s voices respected in a free, fair and democratic election,” said Mr Meeks.

The prompt response from Democrats in Washington followed a week of warnings about Mr Bolsonaro's parallels to former US president Donald Trump, who pushed election fraud conspiracy theories when he lost to Mr Biden in 2020.

Those claims helped fuel the violent attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, when a mob of Trump supporters attempted to stop Congress from certifying the election results.

Mr Bolsonaro had also said he would not respect the results if he did not come out on top in the run-off election, sparking fears of similar violence in the South American country. Mr Bolsonaro has so far remained silent.

Last year, Mr Bolsonaro told supporters there were only three outcomes to the election: he wins, he is killed or he is arrested, though he said he would never allow himself to be arrested, The New York Times reported.

Congressional Democrats raised their concerns about Mr Bolsonaro's rhetoric and its Trump-like parallels to Mr Biden in a letter last week.

“According to Bolsonaro’s allies, he is already reportedly working on a 'Donald Trump-style resistance project' in case he loses the election,” said the letter, spearheaded by Patrick Leahy, a senator from Vermont, and cosigned by 31 leaders in the House and Senate.

“If these fears are borne out and Bolsonaro actively rejects the election results, then we must be prepared to stand unequivocally in defence of democracy in Brazil.”

No Republicans signed on to that letter to the president and have so far remained silent on Brazil's election results.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Minority Leader Michael McCaul declined The National's request for comment on Brazil's election results, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy did not immediately respond.

Updated: November 01, 2022, 6:54 AM
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