More than a day after Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was declared the winner of Brazil’s 2022 presidential election, incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro has yet to publicly acknowledge defeat.
The president’s delay in conceding Sunday’s race has contributed to fears he may cooperate in a transfer of power, amid scattered protests from his supporters. Before the vote, Bolsonaro and some of his allies had made unfounded allegations of voter fraud and unfair treatment by the press.
“Anywhere else in the world, the president who lost would have already called me and conceded,” Lula da Silva told his supporters on Sunday evening, explaining that he was “partly happy, partly worried” about the transfer of power.
“He still hasn’t called, I don’t know if he will and I don’t know if he will concede,” he said.
But public concession or not, experts say that’s already out of the incumbent president’s hands.
It is the Supreme Electoral Court of Brazil that officially validates the results of the elections and communicates them to the Senate, the Chamber of Deputies and the state assemblies.
An electoral court press officer told CNN that the results of the vote are already considered valid, since the court declared the result on Sunday. A later hearing will officially confirm the victory, but no date has yet been set, he said.
The president of the electoral tribunal, Alexandre de Moraes, personally called Lula da Silva and Bolsonaro on Sunday to inform them of the results and congratulate them for their participation in the democratic process, according to a press release from the tribunal.
De Moraes also said he didn’t see much room for the election to be contested. “The result has been announced, accepted and those elected will take office on January 1,” he said in the statement.
Brazilian Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco has previously publicly praised Lula da Silva and his supporters, as has Chamber of Deputies Speaker Arthur Lira, a close Bolsonaro ally.
Foreign leaders around the world were also quick to express their support for Lula da Silva’s victory.
“I extend my congratulations to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on his election as Brazil’s next president after free, fair and credible elections,” US President Joe Biden said after Sunday’s vote.
And Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his congratulations in a message reported by Russian state news agency TASS, adding: “The results of the vote confirm your high political authority.”
The president-elect’s diplomatic work is already underway, with Lula da Silva meeting Monday with Argentinian President Alberto Fernandez – one of the first foreign leaders to congratulate him – in Sao Paulo.
At least twice before, Brazilian leaders have refused to participate in the transfer of power.
At the beginning of the Brazilian republic at the end of the 19th century, Marshal of the Armies Floriano Peixoto did not attend the investiture of his successor, Prudente de Moraes.
And nearly a century later, the last of the unelected military presidents, João Batista Figueiredo, snubbed the inauguration of his successor José Sarney.
In both cases, the boycott was largely symbolic. The same would apply if Bolsonaro refused to concede the presidency in a public statement, according to jurist Augusto de Arruda Botelho.
“Not acknowledging the result is a failure from a political standpoint, because ultimately it is the electoral tribunal that hands over power to the winner of the election,” he told CNN.
“[Bolsonaro] can kick and scream all he wants,” he added.
Moreover, it is in Bolsonaro’s political interest to appear as a good player, political scientist Camila Rocha told CNN.
Rocha’s research shows that refusing to concede would be detrimental to Bolsonaro’s public image with his own supporters. “Even the most extreme pro-Bolsonaro supporters, like those I interviewed last year in Santa Catarina for my research, say that if Bolsonaro loses, he should accept the outcome,” she told CNN. .
“So it’s very clear that if Bolsonaro refuses to accept Lula’s victory, it could have a negative impact even among his supporters. He would certainly be seen as a bad loser.
Nonetheless, since Sunday night, pro-Bolsonaro truckers and other supporters have been blocking roads and highways, causing major delays and disruptions in at least 19 states across the country, according to affiliate CNN Brasil.
So far, roadblocks have occurred in states such as São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Bahia, Minas Gerais and Amazonas.
A CNN team said access to São Paulo International Airport was disrupted by nearly 100 protesters blocking a highway leading to the airport. Some people had left their taxis and started walking along the highway to reach the terminal, the crew said. Very few cars had stopped outside Terminal 3 of the airport, suggesting that most cars had been caught up in the blockade.
São Paulo International Airport advised passengers to check the status of their fights in a tweet noting that access to airport terminals could be difficult due to the protest. A number of flights have been delayed, according to an airline agent who spoke to CNN. The airline’s pilots and crew were unable to get to the airport because the blockade is causing significant delays at the airport, the agent told CNN.
Some police officers on the road leading to the airport told CNN they were afraid to antagonize protesters and tried to avoid confrontation.
Several demonstrators made it clear that they did not believe in the election results.
“We have a president who won at the polls and they defrauded the ballot boxes and put the other candidate in front and we are against that,” said Luis Valejo, a Bolsonaro supporter.
Another, Jurandir Santos, said that even if Bolsonaro accepts the results, “the people won’t accept it.”
In the first public comments from a member of Bolsonaro’s inner circle since his electoral defeat, Bolsonaro’s son, Senator Flavio Bolsonaro, took to Twitter on Monday afternoon to thank his father’s supporters and urged them not to “give up”.
“Thank you to everyone who helped us save patriotism, who prayed, prayed, took to the streets, gave their sweat for the working country and gave Bolsonaro the biggest vote of his life! Let’s raise our heads and don’t abandon our Brazil! he wrote.
“God is responsible! ” he added.