Bolsonaro in silence after losing Brazil’s presidential vote



CNN

More than a day after Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was declared the winner of Brazil’s 2022 presidential election, incumbent Jair Bolsonaro has yet to publicly acknowledge his loss.

The president’s delay in conceding Sunday’s race has contributed to fears that he will not cooperate with a transfer of power, amid scattered protests from his supporters. Before the vote, Bolsonaro and some of his allies had made unsubstantiated claims about electoral fraud and unfair treatment by the press.

“Anywhere else in the world, the president who lost would have called me by now and conceded,” Lula da Silva told supporters on Sunday night, explaining that he was “partly happy, in party concerned” about the transfer of power.

“He hasn’t called yet, 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.

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva speaks after the election results are announced on Sunday.

It is the Supreme Electoral Court of Brazil that officially validates the results of the elections and communicates them to the Senate, the Chamber of Deputies and the State Assemblies.

A press officer for the Electoral Court told CNN that the results of the vote are now considered validated, since the court declared the result on Sunday. A court hearing at a later time will formally confirm the victory, but a date has not yet been set, he said.

The president of the Electoral Tribunal, Alexandre de Moraes, personally called both Lula da Silva and Bolsonaro on Sunday to inform them of the results and congratulate them on their participation in the democratic process, according to a press release from the Tribunal.

De Moraes also said he did not see much room for contesting the election. “The result has been proclaimed, accepted and those who were elected will take office on January 1,” he said in the statement.

Jair Bolsonaro photographed on election day.

The president of the Brazilian Senate, Rodrigo Pacheco, has already publicly congratulated Lula da Silva and his supporters, as has the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Arthur Lira, a close ally of Bolsonaro.

Foreign leaders around the world were also quick to express their support for Lula da Silva’s victory.

“I send my congratulations to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on his election to be the next president of Brazil after a free, fair and credible election,” US President Joe Biden said after Sunday’s vote.

And Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his congratulations in a message reported by Russian state news agency TASS, adding: “The results of the vote confirm your high political authority.”

The president-elect’s diplomatic work is already underway, with Lula da Silva meeting with Argentine President Alberto Fernández – one of the first foreign leaders 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 in the late 19th century, Marshal of the Army 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 the investiture of his successor José Sarney.

In both cases, the boycott was largely symbolic. The same would happen if Bolsonaro refused to concede the presidency in a public statement, according to legal expert Augusto de Arruda Botelho.

“Not recognizing the result is a political non-starter, because at the end of the day, it’s the Electoral Court that hands power to the winner of the election,” he told CNN.

“[Bolsonaro] he can kick and scream as much as he wants,” he added.

Also, it’s in Bolsonaro’s political interest to look like a good sport, political scientist Camila Rocha told CNN.

Rocha’s research shows that refusing to concede would be damaging to Bolsonaro’s public image among his own supporters. “Even the most extreme pro-Bolsonaro supporters, like those I interviewed last year in Santa Catarina for my research, say that if Bolsonaro lost he should accept the result,” he told CNN.

“So it’s very clear that if Bolsonaro refuses to accept Lula’s victory, it could have a negative impact even among his supporters. He would certainly be perceived as a bad loser.”

Supporters of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro block a road near Abadiania in central Brazil.

However, since Sunday evening, pro-Bolsonaro truck drivers and other supporters have been blocking roads and highways, causing major delays and disruptions in at least 19 states across the country, according to CNN Brasil affiliate.

Roadblocks so far have occurred in states such as São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Bahia, Minas Gerais and Amazonas.

A CNN team said access to Sao Paulo’s international airport had been disrupted with nearly 100 protesters blocking a road leading to the airport. Some people had left their taxis and started walking on the side of the freeway to get to the terminal, the crew said. Very few cars had stopped outside the airport’s Terminal 3, suggesting most cars had been caught in the gridlock.

A protester in Varginha, Minas Gerais state, waves a Brazilian flag.

Sao Paulo International Airport advised passengers to check the status of their fights in a tweet noting that access to airport terminals may be difficult due to the protest. A number of flights have been delayed, according to an airline agent who spoke to CNN. Airline pilots and crew have been unable to reach the airport because the blockade is causing significant delays at the airport, the official 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 confrontation.

Several demonstrators have made it clear that they do not believe the election result.

“We have a president who won at the polls and they rigged the polls and put the other candidate in front and we are against it,” said Luis Valejo, a supporter of Bolsonaro.

Another, Jurandir Santos, said that even if Bolsonaro accepts the results, “the people will not accept it.”

In the first public comments by any member of Bolsonaro’s inner circle since his election defeat, Bolsonaro’s son, Sen. Flavio Bolsonaro thanked his father’s supporters on Twitter on Monday afternoon and urged them to “not give up”.

“Thank you to everyone who helped us rescue patriotism, who prayed, prayed, took to the streets, gave their sweat for the country they work for and gave Bolsonaro the biggest vote of his life! Let’s keep our heads up and don’t give up to our Brazil!” He wrote.

“God is in charge!” added.

Military police tried to remove a blockade in Novo Hamburgo in southern Brazil on Tuesday.

The federal supreme court later ordered the clearing of all public roads and highways.

The order came after Brazil’s National Transport Confederation (CNT) said the road closures were causing “inconvenience and damage to the whole of society” and said the protests should be classified as “anti-democratic”. and possible violations of the democratic rule of law.

As of 8 a.m. Tuesday, Brazil’s Federal Police said its officers had removed at least 246 roadblocks from the country’s federal highways, but some roads remain blocked.

Later Tuesday morning local time, the federal Supreme Court issued an order requiring state military police to be used to disperse the roadblocks, as well as to identify and arrest those responsible under the provision that their actions be a “crime against the democratic institution”.

Those responsible could be fined about $20,000 (R$100,000) per hour of blocking, according to the order.

São Paulo state governor Rodrigo García asked state military police to disperse protesters and use force if necessary.

“We will finally arrest those protesters who resist the cleaning of the roads and, if necessary, we will use force (on them),” Garcia told a news conference.

“It will not be a demonstration or a riot that will make society reject the result of the elections. Those who have lost must admit defeat,” said Garcia.

Meanwhile, Bolsonaro’s supporters have called for a protest this Tuesday in front of the federal government buildings in Brasilia at 2pm ET.

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