Bolsonaro is silent after losing the presidential election in Brazil
The president’s delay in retiring from the race on Sunday has added to fears he will not cooperate with a handover of power amid isolated protests from his supporters. Before the vote, Bolsonaro and some of his allies had made unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud and unfair treatment by the press.
“Anywhere else in the world, the lost president would have called me by now and conceded,” Lula da Silva told supporters Sunday night, explaining that he was “part happy, part concerned” about the transfer of power.
“He still hasn’t called, I don’t know if he will, and I don’t know if he will give in,” he said.
But public concession or not, experts say it’s already out of the outgoing president’s hands.
It is the Supreme Electoral Court of Brazil that officially confirms the election results and communicates them to the Senate, the Chamber of Deputies and the state parliaments.
A spokesman for the electoral court told CNN that the results of the vote have been validated since the court announced the result on Sunday. A court session at a later date will officially confirm the win, but no date has yet been set, he said.
The president of the electoral court, Alexandre de Moraes, called Lula da Silva and Bolsonaro personally on Sunday to update them on the results and to congratulate them on their participation in the democratic process, according to a court press release.
De Moraes also said he doesn’t see much room for contesting the election. “The result has been announced, accepted and those elected will take office on January 1,” he said in the press release.
Brazilian Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco has publicly congratulated Lula da Silva and his supporters, as has Chamber of Deputies President Arthur Lira – a close Bolsonaro ally.
Foreign leaders from around the world were also quick to express their support for Lula da Silva’s victory.
“I congratulate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on his election as Brazil’s next president after free, fair and credible elections,” said US President Joe Biden after Sunday’s vote.
And Russian President Vladimir Putin sent congratulations in a message reported by Russia’s state news agency TASS, adding: “The results of the vote confirm your high political authority.”
The diplomatic work of the president-elect is already underway, with Lula da Silva meeting Argentine President Alberto Fernandez – one of the first foreign heads of state to congratulate him – in Sao Paulo on Monday.
At least twice before, Brazilian leaders have refused to participate in the transfer of power.
At the beginning of the Brazilian Republic at the end of the 19th century, Army Marshal Floriano Peixoto did not attend the inauguration of his successor, Prudente de Moraes.
And almost a century later, the last of the unelected military presidents, João Batista Figueiredo, refused to inaugurate his successor, José Sarney.
In both cases, the boycott was largely symbolic. The same would apply if Bolsonaro refused to cede the presidency in a public statement, according to legal expert Augusto de Arruda Botelho.
“Not recognizing the result is a false start from a political point of view, because at the end of the day it is the electoral court that transfers power to the election winner,” he told CNN.
“[Bolsonaro] can kick and scream as much as he wants,” he added.
It is also in Bolsonaro’s political interest to perform as a good sport, political scientist Camila Rocha told CNN.
Rocha’s research shows that denying Bolsonaro a concession would damage his public image among his own supporters. “Even the most extreme pro-Bolsonaro supporters, like those I interviewed in Santa Catarina last year for my research, say that if Bolsonaro lost, he would have to accept the result,” she told CNN.
“So it’s very clear that if Bolsonaro refuses to accept Lula’s win, it could have negative repercussions even among his supporters. He would certainly be perceived as a bad loser.”
Still, pro-Bolsonaro truck drivers and other supporters have been blocking roads and highways since Sunday night, causing significant delays and disruptions in at least 19 states across the country, according to affiliate CNN Brasil.
Roadblocks so far have occurred in states such as São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Bahia, Minas Gerais and Amazonas.
A CNN crew said access to São Paulo International Airport was cut off as nearly 100 protesters blocked a highway leading to the airport. Some people had abandoned their taxis and started walking along the side of the freeway to reach the terminal, crew said. Very few cars had pulled up in front of the airport’s Terminal 3, suggesting that most cars had gotten caught in the blockade.
São Paulo International Airport tweeted that passengers were checking the status of their struggles, noting that access to the airport terminals could be difficult due to the protest. There have been a number of flights delayed, according to an airline agent who spoke to CNN. Airline pilots and crew could not make it to the airport because the blockade is causing significant delays at the airport, the agent told CNN.
Some police officers on the road leading to the airport told CNN they were afraid of upsetting the protesters and were trying to avoid a confrontation.
Several protesters have made it clear that they do not believe the election result.
“We have a president who won at the ballot box and they cheated the ballot box and put the other candidate in the lead and we are against it,” said Luis Valejo, a Bolsonaro supporter.
Another, Jurandir Santos, said that even if Bolsonaro accepts the results, “people will not accept it”.
In the first public comments from a member of Bolsonaro’s inner circle since his election defeat, Bolsonaro’s son, Senator Flavio Bolsonaro, thanked his father’s supporters on Twitter Monday afternoon and urged them not to “give up.”
“Thank you to everyone who helped us save patriotism, who prayed, prayed, took to the streets, gave their sweat for the working country and gave Bolsonaro the biggest voice of his life! Cheer up and don’t give up on Brazil!” he wrote.
“God is in charge!” he added.
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