More than a day after Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was declared the winner of Brazil’s 2022 presidential election, incumbent Jair Bolsonaro has yet to publicly acknowledge his loss.
The president’s delay in conceding Sunday’s race has added to fears he will not cooperate in a transfer of power amid scattered protests from his supporters. Prior to the vote, Bolsonaro and some of his allies had made baseless claims about electoral fraud and unfair treatment by the press.
“Anywhere in the world, the president who lost would have called me by now and conceded,” Lula da Silva told supporters on Sunday evening, explaining that he was “part happy, part concerned” 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 give in,” he said.
But public concession or not, experts say it’s already out of the hands of the outgoing president.
It is the Brazilian Supreme Court that officially validates the election results and communicates them to the Senate, Chamber of Deputies and State Assemblies.
An Electoral Court press officer told CNN that the results of the vote have already been considered validated since the court announced the results on Sunday. A hearing at a later date will formally confirm the win, but no date has been set yet, he said.
The president of the electoral court, Alexandre de Moraes, personally called both Lula da Silva and Bolsonaro on Sunday to inform them of the results and congratulate them on participating in the democratic process, according to a court press release.
De Moraes also said he didn’t see much room to contest the election. “The result has been announced, accepted and those who have been elected will take office on January 1,” he said in the press release.
Brazilian Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco has already publicly congratulated Lula da Silva and his supporters, as has the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies Arthur Lira – a close ally of Bolsonaro.
Foreign leaders from around the world also quickly expressed support for Lula da Silva’s victory.
“I congratulate 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 congratulations in a message reported by the 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 Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez – one of the first foreign leaders to congratulate him – in Sao Paulo on Monday.
At least twice before, Brazilian leaders have refused to participate in the transfer of power.
At the dawn of the Brazilian Republic at the end of the 19th century, Army Marshal Floriano Peixoto was not present at the inauguration of his successor, Prudente de Moraes.
And nearly a century later, the last of the unelected military presidents, João Batista Figueiredo, turned down the inauguration of his successor José Sarney.
In both cases, the boycott was largely symbolic. The same would be true if Bolsonaro refused to admit the presidency in a public statement, lawyer Augusto de Arruda Botelho said.
“Failing to recognize the result is a political non-starter because ultimately it is the electoral court that hands over power to the winner of the election,” he told CNN.
“[Bolsonaro] can kick and scream as much as he wants,” he added.
In addition, it is in Bolsonaro’s political interest to appear the good sport, political scientist Camila Rocha told CNN.
Rocha’s research shows that refusing to give in would harm Bolsonaro’s image among his own supporters. “Even the most extreme pro-Bolsonaro supporters, like the ones I interviewed in Santa Catarina for my research last year, say that if Bolsonaro loses, he should accept the result,” she told CNN.
“So it is very clear that if Bolsonaro refuses to accept Lula’s victory, it could have a negative impact even among his supporters. He would definitely be seen as a bad loser.”
Nevertheless, pro-Bolsonaro truck drivers and other supporters have blocked roads and highways since Sunday night, leading to major delays and disruptions in at least 19 states across the country, according to affiliated CNN Brasil.
The roadblocks have so far occurred in states such as São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Bahia, Minas Gerais and Amazonas.
A CNN crew said access to São Paulo International Airport had been disrupted with nearly 100 protesters blocking a highway to the airport. Some people had abandoned their taxi and started walking along the side of the highway to reach the terminal, the crew said. Very few cars had stopped outside Terminal 3 at the airport, suggesting that most of the cars were trapped in the blockade.
São Paulo International Airport informed passengers to check the status of their fighting in a tweet, noting that access to airport terminals may be difficult due to the protest. According to an airline agent who spoke to CNN, a number of flights have been delayed. Pilots and crew members have been unable to reach the airport because the blockade is causing significant delays at the airport, the agent told CNN.
Some police officers on the way to the airport told CNN that they were afraid to upset the protesters and tried to avoid a confrontation.
Several protesters have made it clear that they do not believe the election results.
“We have a president who won the ballot box and they ripped off the ballot boxes and put the other candidate ahead and we are against that,” said Luis Valejo, a Bolsonaro supporter.
Another, Jurandir Santos, said that even if Bolsonaro accepts the results, “people will not accept it”.
In the first public comments from a member of Bolsonaro’s inner circle since his election defeat, Bolsonaro’s son, Senator Flavio Bolsonaro, took to Twitter Monday afternoon to thank his father’s supporters and urge them not to give up.
“Thank you to everyone who helped us save patriotism, who prayed, prayed, took to the streets, worked up a sweat for the country that works and gave Bolsonaro the biggest voice of his life! Let’s raise our heads and let’s not give up our Brazil!” He wrote.
“God is in charge!” he added.
The federal Supreme Court later ordered the evacuation of all public roads and highways.
The order came after Brazil’s National Transport Confederation (CNT) said the roadblocks were causing “inconvenience and harm to the entire society” and said the protests should be categorized as “anti-democratic” and possible violations of the rule of law.