Brasilia Two days after his defeat in the elections in Brazil, right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro made his first public statement. However, during Tuesday’s short speech in Brasília, he did not say whether he recognized the victory of his challenger Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. “I want to thank the 58 million Brazilians who voted for me on October 30,” Bolsonaro said. “As President and as a citizen, I will continue to fulfill all the requirements of our Constitution.”
He also mentioned his supporters who have blocked numerous highways across the country in recent days. “The current demonstrations are the result of outrage and a sense of injustice at the way the electoral process was conducted,” Bolsonaro said. “Peaceful demonstrations will always be welcome.”
Even if Bolsonaro avoided admitting his defeat in this way, Ciro Nogueira, head of cabinet, said on Tuesday after the president’s brief speech that the handover of government affairs would be initiated. The right-wing populist Bolsonaro had previously assured that he wanted to abide by the constitution and thanked his voters.
Lula received 50.9 percent of the vote in the runoff on Sunday, Bolsonaro got 49.1 percent. Even before the vote, Bolsonaro had repeatedly expressed doubts about the electoral system and indicated that he might not recognize the result.
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Bolsonaro’s reaction had previously been eagerly awaited. “It is the President’s position that will determine the course of the protests. We’re waiting for him to speak. Either Bolsonaro goes to war or he will disappear from the political scene, because then he is not the leader we thought he was,” truck driver Janderson Maçanero told Globo TV.
>> Read here: Lula becomes president for the third time
But the incumbent head of state has remained silent since election night. As of Tuesday, he had not commented on his defeat. Like former US President Donald Trump, Bolsonaro had repeatedly cast doubts on the electoral system before the vote and indicated that he might not recognize the result. If he now doubts the result, his supporters, some of whom are armed, may feel encouraged to protest violently.
The authorities registered over 220 street blockades by Bolsonaro supporters on Tuesday. The trunk roads are essential for supplying the country, and the majority of goods in Brazil are transported by truck.
“The attitude of the current President of the Republic, Jair Bolsonaro, who remains silent and does not recognize the election results, has made it difficult to bring peace to the country and prompted some of his supporters to blockades on Brazilian roads,” said a statement from the union of the highway patrol .
The President of the Supreme Electoral Court, Alexandre de Moraes, finally instructs the police to clear the roadblocks. In some cases, the police used tear gas against the demonstrators.
“The elections are over, we live in a democratic country. No demonstration will force Brazilian democracy to retreat,” said São Paulo Governor Rodrigo Garcia before dispatching the military police.
The country is divided into two camps
The protests show how polarized the largest country in Latin America is. The country is practically divided into two camps. After his election victory, Lula immediately strikes a conciliatory tone. “It’s time to reunite the families and restore the bonds of friendship,” he says. “No one is interested in living in a divided country, in a permanent state of war.”
Both candidates had fought the election campaign with a heavy hand. For weeks they covered themselves with insults, accusations and misinformation. Political opponents became bitter enemies. The rift often went right through the middle of families, circles of friends and neighborhoods. Now it’s up to Lula to fill in the ditches and reconcile the people.
“I am here to govern this country in a very difficult situation. But I am confident that with the help of the people we will find a way out so that this country can live democratically and harmoniously again,” Lula said in his victory speech. “There are no two Brazils, only one people. It is time to lay down your arms.”
Many of his followers associate Lula with Brazil’s golden age. During his tenure from 2003 to 2010, the “president of the poor” modernized Latin America’s largest economy and improved the living conditions of millions of poor Brazilians.
However, nepotism also flourished during his reign. Lula herself spent a year and a half in prison for corruption and money laundering – the sentence was later overturned on formal grounds.
Now the 77-year-old is making a comeback and will begin his third term of office early next year as Brazil’s first democratically elected president. The expectations of the head of state are enormous.
Bolsonaro is leaving, the “Bolsonaristas” are staying
Bolsonaro has isolated the country with his refusal to protect the environment, his idiosyncratic corona policy and his vulgar failures on the world stage. The experienced diplomat Lula could now rehabilitate Brazil on the international stage. “Brazil is back. The country is too big to be relegated to pariah of the world,” says Lula.
As a huge carbon reservoir, the Amazon region plays an important role in the fight against global climate change. Given the tense situation on the energy and food markets due to the Ukraine war, Brazil with its enormous natural resources is also an important trading partner.
Four years of Bolsonaro have left their mark on Latin America’s largest economy. The ex-military had succeeded in bundling the country’s various right-wing tendencies.
According to experts, the “Bolsonaristas” are here to stay. Bolsonaro’s Liberal Party (PL) will in future be the strongest faction in Congress. Even if Bolsonaro is voted out, his supporters could still make life difficult for Lula.