The Brazilian Jair Bolsonaro does not give in, but indicates cooperation with the transfer of power in a speech


Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro said on Tuesday that he would “continue to fulfill all the commandments of our constitution” in a brief speech at the presidential palace in Brasilia, after days of silence following his election defeat to former leader left Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

He did not explicitly admit defeat, although the event seemed to indicate his intention to cooperate with the transfer of power.

Taking the podium after the president, Chief of Staff Ciro Nogueira said he will work with the new government and is waiting for Lula da Silva’s transition team to begin the handover.

“President Jair Messias Bolsonaro authorized me, when the time is right, based on the law, to start the transition process,” Nogueira said.

It should be noted that Bolsonaro’s brief speech did not address the outcome of the vote. Instead, he thanked those who voted for him and slammed critics. “I have always been called anti-democratic and, unlike my accusers, I have always played within the four lines of the constitution,” he said.

Protesters are currently blocking Brazil's roads at 267 points across the country.

He did not congratulate Lula da Silva, who won with 50.9% of the vote, while Bolsonaro won 49.1%.

The president-elect received the most votes in Brazil’s history: more than 60 million votes, beating his own 2006 record of nearly two million votes, according to the electoral authority’s final tally.

Bolsonaro’s initial silence had contributed to fears that he would not cooperate in the transfer of power, after making unsubstantiated claims before the vote about electoral fraud.

Although his speech on Tuesday was brief, experts speculated as to why he refrained from conceding or explicitly contesting the election result.

“Bolsonaro wants to maintain this illusion that he was hurt, and that’s why he lost. He wants to show strength and in the culture of this movement, admitting you’ve lost is showing weakness,” Americas Quarterly editor-in-chief Brian Winter told CNN.

“By saying he’s going to respect the Constitution and by discouraging violence in some of the protests that have occurred, I think (Bolsonaro) essentially paves the way for a relatively normal transition,” Winter said.

Bruna Santos, senior adviser at the Wilson Institute’s Brazil Center, said Bolsonaro was probably thinking about the long-term future of his movement.

“Bolsonarism is a strong opposition force and it became even stronger after this election despite Bolsonaro’s loss,” he said.

In the last legislative elections, Bolsonaro’s Liberal Party increased its representatives in the lower house from 76 to 99, while in the Senate it doubled from seven to 14. Although Lula da Silva’s Workers’ Party has also with increased representation in both houses, conservative-leaning politicians will dominate the next legislature overall.

Aerial view showing supporters of President Jair Bolsonaro, mainly truck drivers, blocking the road in Castelo Branco, on the outskirts of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Brazilian lawmakers and some Bolsonaro allies have already recognized Lula da Silva’s victory. The president of the Brazilian Senate, Rodrigo Pacheco, has publicly congratulated Lula da Silva and his supporters, as has the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Arthur Lira, a close ally of Bolsonaro.

Some pro-Bolsonaro groups on Telegram appeared to be encouraged by Bolsonaro’s speech, which described the ongoing protests as “the result of outrage and a sense of injustice over how the electoral process unfolded.”

CNN saw messages from supporters praising Bolsonaro for not accepting defeat and green-lighting protests.

“He didn’t admit defeat!” He did not greet his opponent! He reaffirmed his respect for the Constitution! Let’s go out, more than ever, safe and secure!” wrote a user.

Protesters have wreaked havoc on the country’s roads since Sunday. Brazil’s highway police said Tuesday morning that protesters had blocked roads at 267 points across the country.

The same highway police agency has faced criticism in Brazil for its response, after videos circulating on Brazilian social media appeared to show officers telling protesters they would not disrupt or shut down their protests.

In a press conference Tuesday morning, highway police executive director Marco Antonio de Barros defended his agency’s actions, saying clearing the roads was a “complex operation.”

“It involves groups of up to 500 demonstrators, with children on their laps, elderly people. So the PRF had to proceed very cautiously,” he said, using the road agency’s acronym.

Highway Police Inspector General Wendel Matos added that the agency does not support protests or the closure of federal highways and that any possible breach of protocol is being investigated. “Sometimes two or three officers speak or act in a manner inconsistent with our orders. We are investigating whether there was any misconduct by those officers,” Matos said.

After Bolsonaro spoke, the Federal Supreme Court of Brazil said that it was important to highlight the “speech of the President of the Republic in the guarantee of the right to come and go in relation to the blockades, and, when determining the beginning of the transition, in the recognition of the result of the elections “.

President-elect Lula da Silva has not commented on the protests, although on Sunday evening he expressed disappointment at Bolsonaro’s initial failure.

The leader of Lula da Silva’s Workers’ Party, Gleisi Hoffman, said on Tuesday that the party was confident the protests would not interfere with the eventual transfer of power. “We trust the Brazilian institutions,” he said.

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