Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was sworn in as Brazil's president on Sunday in the capital of Brasilia to assume office for the third time.
The leftist narrowly beat far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro in an October runoff election, marking a stunning political comeback — just three years after da Silva was released from prison on corruption charges and 12 years after his first two terms as president.
Da Silva has promised a return to "normality," ushering in a major political shift in a highly polarized country. The 77-year-old defeated Bolsonaro in the Oct. 30 vote by less than 2%. Bolsonaro, a 67-year-old populist in the mold of former President Donald Trump, never conceded defeat and has propagated doubts about the legitimacy of Brazil's election.
Since then, Bolsonaro supporters have been defiantly camping out in front of army barracks around the country, calling for armed forces to intervene and overturn the election. On Christmas Eve, one Bolsonaro supporter was arrested in an alleged bombing attempt.
Bolsonaro himself left the country on Friday for Florida and it's unclear when he will return to Brazil. The incoming administration downplayed fears of a Jan. 6-style insurrection in the country.
Still, security was tight at the capital on inauguration day, as da Silva officials put on a show — a celebration they've dubbed "Lulapalooza" — drawing hundreds of thousands to gather for the ceremony, which included a concert with some of the country's biggest artists.
Da Silva, a former union boss known as a pragmatic negotiator, faces an uphill battle heading into another four-year term, especially with Bolsonaro's party having secured majority control of both chambers in Congress. [Copyright 2023 NPR]