Hours after Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was declared Brazil’s next president, incumbent Jair Bolsonaro has yet to address his electoral defeat, raising concerns the far-right leader could be planning to contest the results.
Da Silva, better known as Lula, narrowly bested Bolsonaro in Sunday’s second-round run-off, garnering 50.9 percent support compared to 49.1 percent for the former army captain.
While Lula struck a conciliatory tone – pledging to “govern for 215 million Brazilians, and not just for those who voted for me” – and world leaders congratulated him on his victory, Bolsonaro has yet to comment publicly or on social media.
Bolsonaro has spent months falsely claiming that Brazil’s electoral system was vulnerable to fraud, spurring fears that he planned to contest the results should he lose to Lula, as most Brazilian polls had predicted.
Reporting from the capital Brasilia, Al Jazeera’s Teresa Bo said on Monday that there was “absolutely silence” at the presidential palace, where she said Bolsonaro had arrived very early in the morning.
“He has not conceded defeat. He has not called elected President Lula da Silva,” Bo reported.
In the past, Bolsonaro also has expressed admiration for Brazil’s former military regime, which ruled from 1964 to 1985, adding to fears around the election campaign.
Nevertheless, Bo said the heads of both chambers of Brazil’s Congress have accepted Lula’s victory, tempering concerns over Bolsonaro’s response.
“The director of the electoral tribunal said that he spoke to the president and [said] that he is expected to accept the results,” she said. “But nobody knows when that is going to happen. We do hear, however, that some of his ministers are advising him to acknowledge this result.”
Several media outlets reported that Bolsonaro was expected to speak on Monday afternoon.
Meanwhile, truckers and other protesters blocked highways in several Brazilian states on Monday in an apparent protest against the defeat of Bolsonaro, who was backed by major business interests.
Burning tyres, trucks and cars blocked several points in the west-central farm state of Mato Grosso, which largely supports Bolsonaro, a company that manages a highway in the state said.
Road blockages were also seen in at least five other states, including Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, according to local media.
Lula criticised Bolsonaro on Sunday night for not acknowledging the result.
“Any place else in the world, the defeated president would have called me to recognise his defeat,” the president-elect said in his victory speech to a euphoric sea of red-clad supporters in Sao Paulo.
Lula also vowed to work for “peace and unity” in the divided nation. “I will govern for 215 million Brazilians, and not just for those who voted for me,” he said. “There are not two Brazils. We are one country, one people, one great nation.”
A senior staffer at Bolsonaro’s campaign headquarters said the president went unaccompanied from his official residence to the presidential palace on Monday morning, but he was declining meetings and calls even from his closest aides and political associates.
His eldest son, Senator Flavio Bolsonaro, tweeted thanks to his father’s supporters, and said: “Let’s raise our heads and not give up on our Brazil! God is in charge!”
For his part, Lula on Monday met with Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez, who flew to Sao Paulo to meet the newly elected leader. Fernandez had hailed “a new era for the history of Latin America – a time of hope and future that begins today”.
United States President Joe Biden also spoke to Lula to congratulate him on his victory.
“President Biden commended the strength of Brazilian democratic institutions following free, fair, and credible elections,” the White House said in a statement describing the talks.
“The two leaders discussed the strong relationship between the United States and Brazil, and committed to continue working as partners to address common challenges, including combatting climate change, safeguarding food security, promoting inclusion and democracy, and managing regional migration.”
Encontro hoje com o amigo @alferdez. A nação Argentina é um país irmão e fico feliz de retomarmos a amizade. Vamos reforçar nossa cooperação para um futuro melhor para nossos povos🇧🇷🇦🇷
— Lula 13 (@LulaOficial) October 31, 2022
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