Health & Fitness Journal —
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro said in a brief speech at the Brasilia presidential palace on Tuesday that he “will continue to fulfill all the imperatives of our constitution” after days of silence following his electoral defeat by former left-wing leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
He did not explicitly concede his defeat, although the event seemed to signal his intention to help hand over power.
Chief of Staff Ciro Nogueira, who took the podium after the president, said he would work with the new government and was waiting for Lula da Silva’s transition team to begin the handover.
“President Jair Messias Bolsonaro has authorized me when it is time, based on the law, to start the transition process,” Nogueira said.
It is noteworthy that Bolsonaro’s short speech did not call into question the result of the vote. Instead, he thanked those who voted for him and hit out at critics. “I have always been branded as undemocratic and, unlike my accusers, have always played within the four lines of the constitution,” he said.
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 Brazilian history — more than 60 million votes, beating his own record set in 2006 by nearly two million votes, according to the electoral commission’s final tally.
Hear what Lula said after narrowly beating Bolsonaro
Bolsonaro’s initial silence had added to fears he would not cooperate in the transfer of power after he made unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud ahead of the vote.
While Tuesday’s speech was brief, pundits speculated as to why he refrained from explicitly acknowledging or contesting the election result.
“Bolsonaro wants to maintain this illusion that he’s been wronged and that’s why he lost. He wants to show strength, and in the culture of this movement, to admit you’ve lost is to show weakness,” Americas Quarterly editor-in-chief Brian Winter told Health & Fitness Journal.
“By saying he will respect the constitution, and by discouraging violence at some of the protests, I think[Bolsonaro]is now essentially paving the way for a relatively normal transition,” Winter said.
Bruna Santos, senior advisor at the Wilson Institute’s Brazil Center, said Bolsonaro is likely thinking about the long-term future of his movement.
“Bolsonarismo is a strong opposition force and it became even stronger after this election, despite Bolsonaro’s defeat,” she said.
In the last general election, Bolsonaro’s Liberal Party increased its number of representatives in the lower house from 76 to 99, while doubling it from seven to 14 in the Senate. Although Lula da Silva’s Labor Party was also represented in both houses, conservative crooked politicians will dominate the next election overall.
Brazilian lawmakers and some Bolsonaro allies have already recognized Lula da Silva’s victory. Brazilian Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco publicly congratulated Lula da Silva and his supporters, as did Chamber of Deputies President Arthur Lira – a close Bolsonaro ally.
Some pro-Bolsonaro Telegram groups seemed encouraged by Bolsonaro’s speech, which described the ongoing protests as “the result of outrage and a sense of injustice at how the electoral process took place.”
Health & Fitness Journal saw messages from supporters praising Bolsonaro for not accepting defeat and green-light protests.
“He didn’t recognize defeat! He didn’t greet his opponent! He reiterated his respect for the Constitution! Let’s hit the streets more than ever, safe and secure!” wrote one user.
Protesters have wreaked havoc on the country’s highways since Sunday. Brazil’s highway police said Tuesday morning that protesters had blocked roads at 267 points across the country.
The highway police themselves have been criticized in Brazil for their response after videos circulating on Brazil’s social media showed officers telling protesters they would not disrupt or end their protests.
In a news conference Tuesday morning, Motorway Police Executive Director Marco Antonio de Barros defended his agency’s actions, saying clearing the roads was a “complex operation”.
“Groups of up to 500 demonstrators with children on their laps and elderly people take part. So the PRF had to proceed with great caution,” he said, using an acronym for the Highway Authority.
Motorway Police Inspector General Wendel Matos added that the institution does not support the protests or the closure of federal roads and that possible violations of the protocol are under investigation. “Sometimes two or three officers will speak or act in a way that is inconsistent with our orders. We are investigating whether these officers have committed any wrongdoing,” Matos said.
After Bolsonaro, the Supreme Federal Court of Brazil spoke said that it is important to highlight “the speech of the President of the Republic in guaranteeing the right to come and go in relation to blockades and in determining the beginning of the transition, in recognizing the election result”.
President-elect Lula da Silva has not commented on the protests, although he expressed disappointment at Bolsonaro’s initial failure on Sunday night.
Lula da Silva Labor Party leader Gleisi Hoffman said Tuesday the party was confident protests would not affect the eventual handover of power. “We trust Brazilian institutions,” she said.