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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Working-Class President Wins Re-Election in Brazil

SAO PAULO, Brazil -- Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva heads into another four-year term with a strong mandate after winning re-election in a landslide that few thought possible just one month ago.

Lula, as Brazil's first working-class president is universally known, won 60.8 percent of the votes in Sunday's election while his opponent, Geraldo Alckmin of the centrist Brazilian Social Democracy Party, took 39.2 percent.

The resounding victory capped a remarkable comeback for Lula, who was expected to win the election in the first round of balloting on Oct. 1 but failed because of voter disgust over an ethics scandal involving his Workers' Party.

Sunday's result was almost a mirror image of the 2002 race, when the charismatic former factory worker and labor leader was elected with 61 percent of the vote and marched into the presidential palace on a tide of popular euphoria.

"Lula's advantage in the second round was so decisive that it recreated the positive vibe surrounding the president, just like the one that existed right after the first election," said Marcos Coimbra, head of the polling institute Vox Populi.

Lula, who went hungry as a boy, promised to govern Brazil for all but said that reducing poverty would be the focus.

"The poor will have preference in our government," he said in a victory speech in Sao Paulo.

With the acrimonious campaign behind him, Lula pledged to work with opposition leaders to build a coalition in Congress and ensure that crucial legislation passes.

"I'm going to call everyone in to talk. No one will be turned away," he said.

Some opposition figures signaled they would be willing to reciprocate. Aecio Neves, governor of Minas Gerais state and a rising star in Alckmin's party, said he was ready to work with Lula. "There is a time for elections and a time to build," he said. "From tomorrow, my eyes will be on the future of this country."

Alckmin, a former governor of Sao Paulo state, had emerged energized from the first round after forcing a run-off. But the extra campaigning ended up favoring Lula, who painted his opponent as a heartless bureaucrat who would slash welfare programs and sell off strategic state companies.