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Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva waves to supporters along his wife Rosangela da Silva, Vice-President-elect Geraldo Alckmin and his wife Maria Lucia Ribeiro Alckmin after the presidential inauguration ceremony.(Photo by Andressa Anholete/ Getty Images

(LifeSiteNews) — Socialist Luiz Inácio da Silva has officially been sworn in as the next president of Brazil, putting an end to widespread speculation that the military would prevent him from taking office following claims that his razor-thin victory over incumbent Jair Bolsonaro was the result of a stolen election.

Lula, as he is known in the media, was inaugurated Sunday, January 1, after beating Bolsonaro 50.90 percent to 49.10 percent in November, though many conservatives have argued the race was riddled with irregularities. During his speech Sunday, he raised the specter of persecuting Bolsonaro and his supporters by saying, “We do not carry any spirit of revenge against those who tried to subjugate the nation to their personal and ideological designs, but we will guarantee the rule of law.”

Lula’s return to power is expected to be marked by a dramatic pro-China, leftward shift, especially on “green” policies. Bloomberg is reporting that he has already tapped “leftist economist” Aloizio Mercadante to head up Brazil’s development bank. Other cabinet appointees, some of whom hail from the Brazilian Workers’ Party, hold similar radical views.

Bolsonaro symbolically skipped out on the inauguration festivities this weekend and is believed to have fled to Florida. During his time in office he developed a friendship with former U.S. President Donald Trump, with the pair often amplifying each other’s political messages. His son Eduardo, a member of the Chamber of Deputies, is believed to have been seen dining with Trump at Mar-a-Lago in November.

Lula previously served as president of Brazil from 2003 until 2010. He was convicted in 2017 of corruption and money laundering, for which he was sentenced to nearly 10 years in prison. In 2019, he was found guilty of bribe-related charges in a separate case. However, a 6–5 vote by the Supreme Court allowed him to leave prison later that year. In March of 2021, a Supreme Court judge annulled the charges against him. Weeks later, the Court decided he was free to run in the 2022 election. 

Days before Lula’s victory was certified on December 12, Bolsonaro, 67, appeared before supporters gathered outside the presidential palace. He told them that “the people” would decide his future in politics and that he would be willing to lay down his life for his country. Bolsonaro’s Liberal Party tightened its grip on Brazil’s Congress during the most recent election by adding 22 seats in the Chamber of Deputies. It also won 13 of 27 seats up for grabs in the Brazilian Senate.

Bolsonaro, who won the presidency in 2018 by garnering over 55 percent of the vote, filed a lawsuit with the Superior Electoral Court contesting the results of this year’s race but left-wing Justice Alexandre de Moraes tossed it out. De Moraes also froze the bank accounts of truck drivers who blocked highways. Additionally, he censored conservatives online who said the results were rigged, stating that “democracy” was under attack. Protestors had received messages of support from prominent Catholic clergy like Cardinal Raymond Burke and Bishop Athanasius Schneider.

Since the election, Bolsonaro has maintained an active presence on social media. Although it’s too soon to tell if he’ll run for re-election, he did not explicitly concede defeat to Lula, 77, during his public appearances. Brazil’s next presidential election takes place in October of 2026.