SAO PAULO/ BRASILIA: President Jair Bolsonaro had yet to concede defeat in Brazil’s presidential election by Monday afternoon, raising fears the far-right nationalist might contest the victory of his leftist rival, former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Tens of thousands of jubilant Lula supporters took to the streets of Sao Paulo on Sunday night to celebrate a stunning comeback for the 77-year-old former metalworker, who governed Brazil from 2003 to 2010. His electoral win follows a spell in prison for corruption convictions that were later annulled.
Bolsonaro, who left his residence on Monday morning and headed to the presidential palace, has still not made any public comments. But prior to the vote he repeatedly made baseless claims the electoral system was open to fraud.
Pro-Bolsonaro truckers blocked highways across Brazil to protest Lula’s victory, with some of them calling for a military coup. Truckers, one of Bolsonaro’s key constituencies, have been known to cause economic chaos in top food exporter Brazil when they shut down highways.
The roadblocks, which authorities said had reached 12 Brazilian states in the morning, had not yet disrupted grain exports but could do so if they continued, a key farm state lobby warned.
Lula has vowed to overturn many of Bolsonaro’s policies, including pro-gun measures and weak protection of the Amazon rainforest.
Environmentalists, world leaders and sustainable investors cheered Lula’s victory and his commitment to protect the rainforest and restore Brazil’s leadership on climate change.
Even before he is due to take office on Jan. 1, President-elect Lula will send representatives to next month’s COP27 United Nations climate summit in Saudi Arabia, allied environmentalist Marina Silva said on Monday.
In his victory speech on Sunday evening, Lula pledged to strongly police illegal logging, mining and land grabbing that have driven the surging destruction of the Amazon rainforest in the past four years under Bolsonaro.
Pitching the contest as a battle for democracy, Lula promised to unite his deeply divided country and celebrated what he called his “resurrection.”
“I will govern for 215 million Brazilians, and not just for those who voted for me,” Lula said at his campaign headquarters. “We are one country, one people, one great nation.”