Brazil election: Bolsonaro, Trump of Tropics, not conceding Lula win


RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil and its president-elect, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the winner of Sunday’s election, woke up Monday to a question familiar to Americans: Will the loser concede?

In the tightest presidential election in Brazilian history, following a bitterly fought campaign that deepened divisions in Latin America’s largest nation, President Jair Bolsonaro has remained out of public view since 8 p.m. Sunday, when the Superior Electoral Court declared Lula the winner of the second and final round. Bolsonaro, a close ally of former president Donald Trump, known for his fiery rhetoric and hot missives on social media, has opted for a response that for him has been extremely uncommon: silence.

“Starting [Monday] I need to know how we’re going to govern this country,” Lula told supporters late Sunday. “I need to know if the president we defeated will let there be a transition.” He’s set to take office in January.

Lula defeats Bolsonaro to win a third term as Brazil’s president

On Monday afternoon, the Brazilian outlet Folha de São Paulo reported that Bolsonaro’s allies had drafted a concession speech and the president was expected to deliver it Monday. The content of the speech was unclear; Bolsonaro was expected to claim he was a victim of injustice, but would not challenge the results.

Brazilian Senator Flavio Bolsonaro, the president’s eldest son, was the first of his close allies to speak. In a tweet on Monday afternoon, he said: “Thank you to each one who helped us rescue patriotism, who prayed, prayed, went to the streets, gave their sweat for the country that is doing well and gave Bolsonaro the biggest vote of his life! Let’s raise our heads and not give up on our Brazil! God in command!”

To many here, Bolsonaro’s delay is little surprise. The president, his sons and supporters have for months laid the groundwork to contest a loss with unsupported allegations of electoral fraud. Bolsonaro summoned foreign diplomats in July to cast doubt on electronic voting, and claimed last week that national law had been violated because radio stations gave more time during the campaign to Lula.

Election authorities dismissed all those claims as fictitious, and called Sunday’s election secure and valid. If anything, irregular checkpoints set up by police with ties to Bolsonaro in territory loyal to Lula on Sunday appeared to delay voters from getting to the polls.

Former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva won the presidential election on Oct. 30, defeating incumbent Jair Bolsonaro after a bitter campaign. (Video: Julie Yoon/The Washington Post)

Having followed much of the Trump playbook during his rise to power and in office, analysts say, Bolsonaro could do the same in defeat: refuse to concede, declare Lula’s presidency illegitimate and use his hardcore base to play power broker while preparing for the next election.

“This is the Trump model,” said Marcos Nobre, a political analyst and author. “That’s to say, the one who won the election fair and square is illegitimate. Bolsonaro will seek to weaken Lula in every way.”

His loss comes as the specter of criminal…

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