BRASILIA/SAO PAULO/RIO DE JANEIRO: President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro Tuesday did not concede defeat in his first public statements since losing Sunday’s election, saying his supporters’ protests were the result of “outrage and a sense of injustice” over the vote.
However, he did not contest the election result and authorized his chief of staff, Ciro Nogueira, to begin the transition process with representatives of left-wing president-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
It took more than 44 hours for Bolsonaro, a right-wing nationalist, to comment after the election was decided by election officials, with the delay raising fears he was seeking to cast doubt on the narrow outcome.
Amid his silence, supporters blocked highways to protest his defeat, with some calling for a military coup to prevent former President Lula from returning to power.
The roadblocks have disrupted fuel distribution, supplies to supermarkets and the flow of grain exports to major ports, according to industry groups.
In his short national speech, Bolsonaro joked he would be missed by reporters, thanked those who voted for him and said he would respect the constitution, which stipulates a January 1 transition of power.
“The current popular movements are the result of outrage and a feeling of injustice at the way the electoral process has been carried out,” he said.
He said protesters should avoid destroying property or “impeding the right to come and go”, but did not tell them to go home.
“Bolsonaro did not put out this fire. He spoke to his die-hard supporters without criticizing the protesters on the highways,” said political risk analyst André Cesar at Hold Legislative Advisors in Brasilia. “He keeps his most extreme supporters mobilized.”
Karina Laurinda, 34, who took part in protests on the highway outside Sao Paulo, said she would continue to demonstrate.
“Even if he says to calm down, not to 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 have started reaching out to the Lula camp to discuss a transition. Other allies, including the president of the lower house of Congress, have since Sunday called on the Bolsonaro government to respect the election results.
In a statement, the Supreme Court said it considered that by authorizing the government transition, Bolsonaro recognized the outcome of the election.
In a meeting later Tuesday between Bolsonaro and several Supreme Court justices, the president clearly acknowledged that Lula had won the election, according to two of the justices who took part.
“It cleared the air, no doubt. It seemed to turn the page,” said one of the judges, who requested anonymity to speak candidly about the encounter.
“The message was: game over,” said the other judge. “He did not criticize the electoral system or the courts.”
Ahead of Sunday’s vote, Bolsonaro repeatedly made baseless claims that the electoral system was open to fraud and accused election officials of favoring his leftist opponent.
Bolsonaro did not directly repeat those claims on Tuesday. But his reference to “injustice” in the electoral process showed 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 Brasilia.
Trump has continued to repeat false claims that the 2020 US election was “stolen” by widespread fraud and retains a sizable core of supporters who believe them.
“He’s going to copy Trump for the next four years to keep his conservative movement alive,” Barreto said, predicting the 2026 election would be a rematch between Bolsonaro and Lula’s Workers’ Party.
Lula’s win represents a stunning comeback for the 77-year-old former steelworker, who spent 19 months in jail for corruption convictions before they were overturned last year.
Lula has pledged to reverse many of Bolsonaro’s policies, including pro-gun measures and weak government protection. Amazon tropical forest. His aides confirmed on Tuesday that he would attend this month’s COP27 United Nations climate summit in Egypt.
Lula’s centrist running mate, former Sao Paulo governor Geraldo Alckmin, will coordinate the transition, the Workers’ Party announced on Tuesday, with help from party leader Gleisi Hoffmann and former education minister Aloizio Mercadante. .
Nogueira, Bolsonaro’s chief of staff, told reporters the president had cleared him to begin the transition process with Alckmin once his name was officially submitted on Thursday.

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