Brazil’s Bolsonaro does not concede to Lula, but authorizes transition

BRASILIA/SAO PAULO, Nov 1 (Reuters) – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro refused to concede defeat on Tuesday in his first public remarks since losing Sunday’s election, saying protests by his supporters were the result of “indignation and a sense of injustice” over the vote

However, he stopped contesting the election result and authorized his chief of staff, Ciro Nogueira, to begin the transition process with representatives of leftist president-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

It took Bolsonaro, a right-wing nationalist, more than 44 hours to comment after the election was decided by electoral authorities, with the delay raising fears he would seek to cast doubt on the narrow result.

Amid his silence, supporters blocked highways to protest his defeat, with some calling for a military coup to stop former president Lula from returning to power.

According to industry groups, the road blockades disrupted fuel distribution, supermarket supplies and the flow of grain exports to major ports. Read more

In his brief national speech, Bolsonaro joked that journalists would miss him, thanked those who voted for him and said he would abide by the constitution, which stipulates a transition of power on January 1.

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“The current popular movements are the fruit of indignation and a sense of injustice about the way the electoral process took place,” he said.

He said protesters should avoid destroying property or “obstructing the right to come and go,” but stopped short of telling them to go home.

“Bolsonaro didn’t put out this fire. He spoke to his die-hard supporters without criticizing the protesters on the highways,” said political risk analyst Andre Cesar at Hold Legislative Advisors in Brasilia. “He keeps his more extremist followers mobilized.”

Karina Laurinda, 34, who took part in highway demonstrations outside Sao Paulo, said she would continue to protest.

“Even if he says calm down, don’t react, we will still react because we will not accept a Lula government,” she said.


Bolsonaro’s chief of staff and Vice President Hamilton Mourao began making contact with the Lula camp to discuss a transition. Other allies, including the president of the lower house of Congress, have asked since Sunday that Bolsonaro’s government respect the election result.

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In a statement, the Supreme Court said that it considers that, by authorizing the government transition, Bolsonaro recognizes the result of the election.

Ahead of Sunday’s vote, Bolsonaro repeatedly made baseless claims that the electoral system was open to fraud and accused electoral authorities of favoring his leftist opponent.

Bolsonaro did not directly repeat those claims on Tuesday. But his reference to “injustice” in the electoral process showed that he had learned from the post-presidency of US President Donald Trump, his ideological ally, according to Leonardo Barreto, a political analyst at Vector Consultancy in Brazil.

Trump has continued to repeat false claims that the 2020 US election was “stolen” by widespread fraud and maintains a significant core of supporters who believe them.

“He will copy Trump for the next four years to keep his conservative movement alive,” Barreto said, predicting that the 2026 election will be a rematch between Bolsonaro and Lula’s Workers’ Party.

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Lula’s victory represents a stunning comeback for the 77-year-old former metal worker, who spent 19 months in prison on corruption convictions before they were overturned last year.

Lula has promised to reverse many of Bolsonaro’s policies, including pro-gun initiatives and lax protection of the Amazon rainforest. His aides confirmed on Tuesday that he will attend this month’s United Nations COP27 climate summit in Egypt.

Lula’s centrist running mate, former São Paulo governor Geraldo Alckmin, will coordinate the transition, the Labor Party announced on Tuesday, with the help of party leader Gleisi Hoffmann and former Education Minister Aloizio Mercadante.

Nogueira, Bolsonaro’s chief of staff, told reporters that the president had authorized him to begin the transition process with Alckmin after his name was formally presented on Thursday.

Reporting by Ricardo Brito, Marcela Ayres and Anthony Boadle in Brasilia, and Brian Ellsworth, Nayara Figuereido and Gabriel Araujo in São Paulo; Editing by Brad Haynes, Alistair Bell, and Rosalba O’Brien

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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