Brazil's President: Bolsonaro breaks his silence - without saying much

A clear admission of one's own defeat looks different.

Brazil's President: Bolsonaro breaks his silence - without saying much

A clear admission of one's own defeat looks different. When Brazil's right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro finally stood in front of the microphone two days after the election, he was still fidgeting. He thanks his voters and assures them that they will abide by the constitution.

No word on the victory of his left challenger Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Not a word to rein in his angry followers. After just two minutes, Bolsonaro leaves the lectern in his residence Palácio da Alvorada in Brasília.

Closest election outcome since the 1980s

His head of cabinet can then announce one more matter of course. "President Jair Bolsonaro authorized us on the basis of the law to initiate the process of handing over power," says Ciro Nogueira. However, the procedure for changing government is regulated by law anyway, and the consent of the outgoing government is not required at all. Lula got 50.90 percent in Sunday's election, Bolsonaro 49.10 percent - it is probably the closest election result in Brazil since the country's return to democracy in the late 1980s.

Although Bolsonaro does not expressly doubt the election result, he again casts doubt that everything was right in the vote. "The current demonstrations are the result of outrage and a feeling of injustice at the way the electoral process was conducted," he says of the protests and road blockades by his supporters. "Peaceful demonstrations will always be welcome, but our methods cannot be those of the left that have always harmed the population, such as trespassing on property, destroying cultural assets and restricting the right to come and go."

Bolsonaro supporter speaks of "war"

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. "It is the President's position that will determine the course of the protests. We are 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 for whom we held it," says long-distance driver Janderson Maçanero on TV station Globo.

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.

A polarized country

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," said Lula in his victory speech. "There are no two Brazils, only one people. It's 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.

Expectations of Lula enormous

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 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 downgraded to the 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.