Brazil holds its breath with Bolsonaro STILL yet to concede defeat

Brazil holds its breath with Bolsonaro STILL yet to concede election defeat ‘after he went straight to bed when he saw poll results’ – as president-elect Lula da Silva begs rivals to ‘lay down your arms’

  • Lula da Silva beat Jair Bolsonaro in tense presidential election, with 51% of the vote compared to 49%
  • Bolsonaro has so far remained silent after election results, raising fears that he might contest the election
  • US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron have both congratulated Lula

A tense Brazil is awaiting Jair Bolsonaro’s next move today as the far-right incumbent is still yet to concede defeat to Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva following a down-to-the-wire presidential election that has split the country in two.

Bolsonaro has so far remained silent, with the politician reportedly going straight to bed after he saw that veteran leftist Lula had beaten him in the election with 50.83 per cent of the vote compared to 49.17 per cent on Sunday night.

Bolsonaro’s silence has raised fears that he might contest the election, particularly after months of the ex-army captain alleging election fraud and a supposed conspiracy against him. 

Lula, a former president of Brazil, criticized his nemesis for not acknowledging the result on Sunday evening, as the president-elect called for ‘peace and unity’ and pleaded with Bolsonaro’s loyal followers to ‘lay down their arms’ following the divisive election.

The victory marks a stunning turnaround for the charismatic but tarnished leftist heavyweight, who left office in 2010 as the most popular president in Brazilian history, fell into disgrace when he was imprisoned for 18 months on since-quashed corruption charges, and now returns for an unprecedented third term at age 77.

All eyes are now on how Bolsonaro will react to the election results – but for now, there remains radio silence from the defeated incumbent, who is often compared to former US president Donald Trump. 

Bolsonaro’s closest allies said they have tried to speak to him last night, but they were told the president went to sleep after he saw the election results, reports Globo. 

Meanwhile, Lula used his first speech as president-elect to say that he was determined to heal a nation wounded by a bitter campaign.

‘We’ll have to dialogue with a lot of angry people… This country needs peace and unity. The Brazilian people don’t want to fight anymore,’ the ex-metalworker said, his gravelly voice even raspier than usual at the close of a gruelling campaign.

Lula continued: ‘No one is interested in living in a family where discord reigns. It is time to bring families together again, to rebuild the bonds of friendship broken by the criminal propagation of hate. No one is interested in living in a divided country, in a permanent state of war.

‘It’s time to put down the weapons, which should never have been wielded. Guns kill. And we choose life.’

The election marks a stunning comeback for the leftist former president and a punishing blow to Bolsonaro, the first Brazilian incumbent to lose a presidential election.

Brazil’s former President and presidential candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva celebrates his victory at a rally in Sao Paulo

Tens of thousands of people gather in the streets of Brazil’s capital, Sao Paulo, as news of the election result began to spread

Supporters await the results on presidential runoff day on October 30, 2022 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Supporters of Brazilian President and re-election candidate Jair Bolsonaro pray as they watch the vote count of the presidential run-off election in Brazil on Sunday night

A supporter of Lula screams with happiness after the former president is re-elected following a tense election 

A supporter of Bolsonaro cries as the election results show the incumbent lost the election to Lula 

Lula’s supporters react with elation after it is confirmed that he has forced the sitting President out of office

Bolsonaro shortly after casting his vote in Rio de Janerio this morning – he has ended up losing the election by a hair

Who are Brazil’s Presidential candidates?

Jair Bolsonaro

Bolsonaro is the current sitting President of Brazil, the 38th in the country’s history.

A retired military officer, he is a far-right politician who has been in power since 2019. 

He is staunchly against LGBT+ rights and follows strict Christian values.

While in power he has hit headlines for spreading misinformation during the coronavirus pandemic and seeing further erasure of the country’s Amazon rainforest.

Bolsonaro’s administration has been marked by incendiary speech, his testing of democratic institutions and his widely criticized handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

But he also built a devoted base by defending conservative values and presenting himself as protection from leftist policies that he says infringe on personal liberties and produce economic turmoil. 

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva

Known as Lula, da Silva is a former Brazilian President and ex-trade union leader.

Born into poverty, Lula organized strikes against Brazil’s military government in the 1970s.

Da Silva is credited with building an extensive social welfare program during his 2003-2010 tenure that helped lift tens of millions into the middle class as well as presiding over an economic boom. 

He is an old-school leftist and has campaigned to resume international relations and cooperation, the majority of which was stopped under the current President.

He has promised to eradicate hunger and poverty, both big problems in Brazil.

He is also strong on environmental concerns and pledges to protect the Amazon. 

He was arrested in 2018 over a corruption scandal which saw him sent to prison. 

Da Silva was jailed for for 580 days for corruption and money laundering. 

His convictions were later annulled by Brazil’s top court, which ruled the presiding judge had been biased and colluded with prosecutors. That enabled da Silva to run for the nation’s highest office for the sixth time. 

The vote was a rebuke for the fiery far-right populism of Bolsonaro, who emerged from the back benches of Congress to forge a novel conservative coalition but lost support as Brazil ran up one of the worst death tolls of the coronavirus pandemic. 

In contrast to Bolsonaro’s silence, congratulations for Lula poured in from foreign leaders, including US President Joe Biden, Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron.

His victory marks the first time since Brazil’s 1985 return to democracy that the sitting president has failed to win re-election. Lula’s inauguration is scheduled to take place on January 1.

In his victory speech overnight, Lula said: ‘I consider myself to be a candidate that has had a process of reconstruction in Brazilian politics. Because they (rivals) tried to bury me alive. And I am here, I am here to govern the country from a very difficult situation. 

‘But with the help of the people, we will find a way out for this country to return to being democratic, peaceful, for us to support parents, families, to build the world that Brazil needs.’

‘This is not my victory, nor of the PT (Workers’ Party), nor of the parties that supported me in the campaign. It a victory of the immense democratic movement that was more than the political parties, of individual interests, of ideologies, for democracy to win. 

‘On this historic October 30, the majority of Brazilians made it very clear that they want more and not less democracy. 

‘That they want more and not less social inclusion. That they want more and not less opportunities for all. They want more and not less respect and understanding among Brazilians. 

‘To summarise, they want more freedom, equality, fraternity in our country.’

He later added: ‘I will govern for 215 million Brazilians, and not just for those who voted for me. There are not two Brazils. We are one country, one people, one great nation.’ 

Bolsonaro had been leading throughout the first half of the count and, as soon as Lula overtook him, cars in the streets of central Sao Paulo began honking their horns.

People in the streets of Rio de Janeiro’s Ipanema neighbourhood could be heard shouting: ‘It turned!’

Bolsonaro, 67, who for years has made baseless claims that Brazil’s voting system is prone to fraud last year openly discussed refusing to accept the results of the vote.

Electoral authorities are bracing for him to dispute the outcome, sources told Reuters, and made security preparations in case his supporters stage protests. 

Two hours after electoral authorities declared Lula the winner, Bolsonaro and his campaign had made no public statements about the result.

Lula is promising to govern beyond his leftist Workers’s Party. He wants to bring in centrists and even some leaning to the right who voted for him for the first time, and to restore the country’s more prosperous past. 

Yet he faces headwinds in a politically polarized society where economic growth is slowing and inflation is soaring.

His victory marks the first time since Brazil’s 1985 return to democracy that the sitting president has failed to win re-election, and extended a wave of recent leftist victories in the region, including Chile, Colombia and Argentina.

Thomas Traumann, an independent political analyst, compared the results to Biden’s 2020 victory, saying Lula is inheriting an extremely divided nation.

‘The huge challenge that Lula has will be to pacify the country,’ he said. ‘People are not only polarized on political matters, but also have different values, identity and opinions. What’s more, they don’t care what the other side’s values, identities and opinions are.’

As Lula spoke to his supporters – promising to ‘govern a country in a very difficult situation’ – Bolsonaro had yet to concede the election.

Lula’s headquarters in a central Sao Paulo hotel only erupted once the final result was announced, underscoring the tension that was a hallmark of this race.

‘Four years waiting for this,’ said Gabriela Souto, one of the few supporters allowed in due to heavy security.

Lula has pledged to boost spending on the poor, re-establish relationships with foreign governments and take bold action to eliminate illegal clear-cutting in the Amazon rainforest. 

A supporter of Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro cries as he hears his candidate has lost the election

A supporter of the President elect Lula celebrates by waving a giant Brazilian flag on the streets of Sao Paulo

Elected president for the leftist Workers Party (PT) Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva speaks after winning the presidential run-off election

Other supporters of Bolsonaro touch national flags as they appear to pray or weep in devastation

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, center, hold hands with a supporter after voting in a presidential run-off election in Sao Paulo, Brazil

A supporter of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva reacts while gathering with fellow supporters on the day of the Brazilian presidential election run-off

Supporters of incumbent Jair Bolsonaro, who is running for another term, wait for election results after polls closed

A supporter of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro holds her hands in prayer as she watches partial results after polls closed in a presidential run-off election in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

US President Joe Biden was among the first to congratulate the incoming President: ‘I send my congratulations to Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on his election to be the next president of Brazil following free, fair, and credible elections,’ Biden said in a statement. 

‘I look forward to working together to continue the cooperation between our two countries in the months and years ahead,’ he added.

Meanwhile French President Emmanuel Macron said: ‘Together, we will join forces to take up the many common challenges and renew the ties of friendship between our two countries.’

Voting stations in the capital, Brasilia, were already crowded by morning and, at one of them, retired government worker Luiz Carlos Gomes said he would vote for Lula. 

‘He’s the best for the poor, especially in the countryside,’ said Gomes, 65, who hails from Maranhao state in the poor northeast region. ‘We were always starving before him.’

Outside Bolsonaro’s home in Rio de Janeiro, ground-zero for his support base, a woman on a lorry delivered a prayer over a speaker, then sang excitedly, trying to generate some energy.

But supporters decked out in the green and yellow of the flag barely responded. Many perked up when the national anthem played, singing along loudly with hands over their hearts.

Most opinion polls before the election gave a lead to Lula, though political analysts agreed the race grew increasingly tight in recent weeks.

For months, it appeared that Lula was headed for easy victory as he kindled nostalgia for his presidency, when Brazil’s economy was booming and welfare helped tens of millions join the middle class.

But while Lula topped the Oct. 2 first-round elections with 48 per cent of the vote, Bolsonaro was a strong second at 43 per cent, showing opinion polls significantly underestimated his popularity. Many Brazilians support Bolsonaro’s defense of conservative social values and he has shored up support with vast government spending.

Concerns have now been raised that if Bolsonaro, dubbed ‘Trump of the Tropics’, were to lose, he may refuse to admit defeat.

If he fails to accept the election result, there are fears his armed supporters will take to the streets in protest.

But on Friday night, he pledged to respect the election result, though possible accusations of rigging and backlash from his supporters loom large.

One concerned voter, on her way to a Lula rally in Sao Paolo, said she was concerned that Bolsonaro would ignore the electorate’s decision.

Marcia dos Santos, 27, said: ‘He is a dictator by nature, he and his family have attacked our state structures.

‘Everyone is worried. My mother does not want me to be out on the streets after the result. But we have got to come out, we need to come out to defend the vote.’

Her friend, 33-year-old teacher Antonia Luiz added: ‘We have had disaster after disaster with Bolsonaro. This is a chance to start putting the country right with Lula. He is a good man.’

The President previously came under fire for his disastrous handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, which left more than 680,000 dead in Brazil, as well as his vitriolic style and disdain for political correctness.

However, in recent months, falling unemployment figures, slowing inflation and a recovering economy have given him a boost.

Mr Trump, who continues to falsely insist he beat President Joe Biden in the 2020 election, referred to the left-wing candidate as ‘a radical left lunatic who will quickly destroy your country’.

He had previously referred to the current Brazilian President as a ‘great friend’.

Mr Trump said: ‘Jair Bolsonaro and I have become great friends over the past few years for the people of the United States.

‘He is a wonderful man and has my complete and total endorsement.’

Concerns have now been raised that if Bolsonaro, dubbed ‘Trump of the Tropics’, was to lose, he could refuse to admit defeat. If he refuses to accept the election result, there are fears his armed supporters will take to the streets in protest. Pictured: Brazilian’s heading to the polling station this afternoon

Supporters of Brazil’s current President Bolsonaro on election day in the country’s capital Brasilia. The President previously came under fire for his disastrous handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, which left more than 680,000 dead in Brazil, as well as his vitriolic style and disdain for political correctness

President Biden’s administration quickly stepped in to add that it will move quickly to recognise whichever leader is democratically elected.

The government urged Brazil to ensure a ‘free, fair, credible, transparent and peaceful’ election, adding that it would review relations with the South American country if anti-democratic methods are used.

Earlier this month, one of Bolsonaro’s sons, Eduardo, met Trump supporters in the US where he alleged that his father would be ‘the victim of the largest electoral fraud ever seen’ – words almost identical to Trumps after he lost the 2020 election.

During the first-round election on October 2, 77-year-old Lula narrowly won the first-round election, entering the finale as the slight favourite.

Brazilians vote in Runoff Elections in New York to elect from one of the two Presidential candidates Jair Bolsonaro and Lula da Silva

Brazilians smile in New York as they vote in Runoff Elections to elect from one of the two Presidential candidates

A Lula supporter leaves his phone with election officials at a polling station before casting their vote in the ballot in Florida. Florida has the second largest number of Brazilians voting in the United States

A voter in the polling station in New York, where Brazilians take part in Runoff elections for the presidential candidates 

A Brazilian voter in the polling station in New York, where nationals can take part in Runoff elections for the presidential candidates

Brazilians have been voting in New York during Runoff elections for the presidential candidates

Supporters of Brazil’s former President Lula and candidate of the left Workers Party enjoy a beer at a bar in downtown Sao Paulo on election day

The final poll from Datafolha institute on Saturday revealed that 52 per cent of voters were in favour of the left-wing candidate, with 48 per cent supporting the current leader. But when Bolsonaro was last elected, he performed better than any predictions.

President Bolsonaro was seen wearing a yellow and green t-shirt casting his vote in Rio de Janeiro minutes after the polls opened while Lula voted in his hometown of São Bernardo do Campo in São Paulo state.

Greeting supporters outside the polling station, Bolsonaro said: ‘God willing, we’ll be victorious later today. Or even better, Brazil will be victorious.’

The left-wing candidate, however, said he was ‘confident in the victory of democracy’ and that he would seek to ‘restore peace’ in the divided nation if elected.

Brazilians still remain split over which man is best to lead their country as the fraught election closes.

Eliane de Oliveira, a 61-year-old lawyer who voted in Rio, said: ‘I think this has been the best government Brazil has ever had.’

She added that she was happy to have a Government that ‘was not corrupt’ alluding to the corruption scandal surrounding Lula.

He is credited with building an extensive social welfare programme during his 2003-2010 tenure that helped lift tens of millions into the middle class as well as presiding over an economic boom.

The man universally known as Lula left office with an approval rating above 80% – then-US president Barack Obama called him ‘the most popular politician on Earth’.

Supporters of Brazil’s President Bolsonaro cheer on the leader on election day in Brazil’s capital city Brasilia 

But he then became mired in a massive corruption scandal and was jailed for 18 months, before his convictions were thrown out last year. The Supreme Court found the lead judge was biased, but Lula was not exonerated.

If he wins, he faces a hostile Congress dominated by Bolsonaro lawmakers and allies.

Others are happy to support the former leader. One P.E. teacher, Gustavo Souza, voted for Lula in ‘the hope of improving people’s lives’.

Like many, he said he was ‘scared’ about the outcome and had fears that Bolsonaro would not accept the result.

The teacher added: ‘People have become so radical. They will need some maturity… or it will turn into the third or fourth world war.’

A nation divided: Brazilians cry tears of joy (and upset) over election result as left-wing Lula topples far-Right populist Bolsonaro in tight race for presidency 

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva supporters were already breaking out the flares and crying with joy, while backers of Jair Bolsonaro dropped to their knees in Brazil’s capital, praying for an election miracle.

For almost three hours a nail-biting presidential vote count was too close to call, but as the leftist hero’s lead of less than two percentage points stuck, it became clear that no prayer could stop the inevitable.

‘The feeling is indescribable,’ said Carolina Freio, 44, a public servant, in a Copacabana bar as she welled up with tears after Lula clinched victory with 50.9 percent to Bolsonaro’s 49.1 percent.

‘He represents so much: gender equality, freedom. Lula will change everything,’ she said, overcome with emotion.

Lula’s supporters exploded with joy across the country. In economic powerhouse Sao Paulo, thousands crammed the streets in a sea of red, the colour used by his fans, clinking beers and setting off flares.

‘I won, it is my victory, like everyone I am crying with joy,’ said a jubilant Mary Alves Silva, 53, a retired banker with Lula stickers covering her arms and chest. She added that the win was also for the stricken Amazon rainforest and its Indigenous inhabitants.

At a bar in Leme, an upscale neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro, technician Victoria Cabral remained on edge after the results came in.

A supporter of President-elect da Silva dances and celebrates after hearing the left-wing politician has won

 For almost three hours a nail-biting presidential vote count was too close to call, but as the leftist hero’s lead of less than two percentage points stuck, it became clear that no prayer could stop the inevitable

One supporter said: ‘Bolsonaro is racist, homophobic, thieving, misogynistic…. I can go on. Not that Lula is the ideal candidate, but he is so much better’

Supporters of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva light flares during the vote count of the presidential run-off election at the Paulista avenue in Sao Paulo, Brazil

‘I cannot understand how half of the country voted for Bolsonaro, it makes me feel very insecure,’ she said.

‘However, I think hope will return now. It goes beyond politics, we are talking about humanity. Bolsonaro is racist, homophobic, thieving, misogynistic…. I can go on. Not that Lula is the ideal candidate, but he is so much better.’

As the result crystalized, Bolsonaro supporters gathered in the capital Brasilia dropped to their knees and raised their hands skyward in prayer and supplication.

‘We need a miracle,’ a speaker said over the microphone, as Bolsonaro supporters clutched each other and wept.

‘I am still hoping the president will meet with the generals, we are hoping that things can change at any moment,’ said a 57-year-old dentist who did not want to be named.

Ruth da Silva Barbosa, a 50-year-old teacher, said she was ‘revolted’ by the outcome.

‘The Brazilian people aren’t going to swallow a faked election and hand our nation over to a thief,’ she said.

The country finds itself split in two after a dirty and divisive vote.

After months of attacking the electoral system, Bolsonaro maintained radio silence for hours after the result was announced, raising tension in Latin America’s biggest economy.

‘It scares me because I believe he is capable of anything, even though I think democracy will prevail,’ said 34-year-old software developer Larissa Meneses, taking part in the Sao Paulo festivities.

As the Lula party continued, Bolsonaro’s supporters quickly dispersed.

Rogerio Barbosa, selling Brazilian flags near a Sao Paulo metro station, was desolately packing up his merchandise.

‘I came in case Bolsonaro won, so I could sell his flag,’ said the 58-year-old.

‘I preferred Bolsonaro. God, family, anyway. I will see what Lula can do for us.’  

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