SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) -- From shoeshine boy to union firebrand to the next president of Latin America's largest nation, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva celebrated a stunning electoral victory, but has a world of problems to confront in Brazil.
Silva became the first leftist elected president of Brazil, beating ruling party candidate Jose Serra with 61 percent of the vote in a runoff.
Thousands of people thronged the streets of Sao Paulo. Some revelers also hoisted the hammer-and-sickle flag of the Communist Party, which backed Silva.
But so did the rightist party of Silva's running mate, Jose Alencar. The country's bankers and industrialists associations were among those welcoming Silva's victory.
Silva, who dropped out of school after the fifth grade, will face enormous challenges after his Jan. 1 inauguration. He must try to pull more than 50 million Brazilians from poverty, save the world's ninth-largest economy from recession, create new jobs and increase housing.
At the same time, he must maintain fiscal responsibility and the confidence of Brazil's creditors and investors.
For many, Silva's win represents a chance for leftist politics to make a comeback on a continent where, except for Venezuela, it seemed in danger of fading away.
"This is our opportunity to consolidate our hopes for a Brazil which should be more just, and needs to care more about the needs of the people," shouted Marcos Xavier, a university professor.
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