BRASILIA, Oct 31 (Reuters) – President Jair Bolsonaro will not publicly address his defeat in Brazil’s presidential election until Tuesday, a minister said, raising doubts about whether far-right nationalists will accept the victory of his leftist rival Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. .
Bolsonaro was holding off on the remarks so he could return to his residence on Monday evening and prepare a speech, Communications Minister Fabio Faria told Reuters.
The head of the Coalition party, Claudio Cajado, had previously said that Bolsonaro would address the nation on Monday, about 24 hours after Brazil’s presidential election was decided.
It was unclear whether Bolsonaro would accept defeat, as Cajado said some advisers were encouraging him to do so.
Lula’s victory marks a stunning comeback for the 77-year-old former metalworker, who ruled Brazil from 2003 to 2010 but spent time in prison on corruption charges that were later overturned.
Bolsonaro spent Monday at the presidential palace without appearing in public. Before the polls, he repeatedly made baseless claims that the electoral system was open to fraud.
His eldest son, Senator Flavio Bolsonaro, thanked his father’s supporters in a tweet, saying: “Let’s keep our heads up and don’t give up on our Brazil! God is in charge!”
Pro-Bolsonaro truckers blocked highways across Brazil to protest Lula’s victory, with some calling for a military coup. Truckers, one of Bolsonaro’s key constituencies, cause economic chaos in top food exporter Brazil when they block highways.
Telecommunications Minister Faria said Bolsonaro was working with his solicitor general to determine measures to open highways.
Some 236 protests in 20 Brazilian states had partially or completely blocked roads as of Monday evening, according to the Federal Highway Police. The blockade did not immediately disrupt grain exports.
Lula has pledged to reverse 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 protecting rainforests and restoring Brazil’s leadership on climate change.
Before taking office on Jan. 1, President-elect Lula will send a delegation to next month’s COP27 United Nations climate summit in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, associate environmentalist Marina Silva said Monday.
In his victory speech on Sunday evening, Lula promised to crack down on the illegal logging, mining and land grabbing that has led to the increasing destruction of the Amazon rainforest over the past four years under Bolsonaro.
Challenging the contest as a battle for democracy, Lula vowed to unite his deeply divided country, calling it his “resurgence”.
“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.”
The Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) announced that Lula won 50.9% of the vote, while Bolsonaro received 49.1%, becoming the first Brazilian incumbent to lose a presidential election.
Lula’s victory cemented a new “pink tide” in Latin America and means the left will rule all the region’s major economies after electoral successes in recent years, from Mexico to Argentina.
Argentine President Alberto Fernandez flew to Sao Paulo on Monday to meet with the president-elect and said “there is a new era for the history of Latin America. A time of hope and a future that begins today.”
US President Joe Biden quickly moved to congratulate Lula, calling the election “free, fair and credible”. Biden will speak with Lula on Monday, the White House said.
Congratulation also poured in from other foreign leaders, including China’s Xi Jinping, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron.
But Bolsonaro’s continued silence raised fears of a power transfer.
International election observers said Sunday’s election was effectively conducted. An observer told Reuters that military auditors had found no flaws in their tests of the integrity of the voting system.
The market had a volatile week. Brazil’s real gained more than 2% against the dollar, while Bovespa (.BVSP) Choppy was up 0.6% in trading.
Lula’s victory was a rebuke to the fiery right-wing populism of Bolsonaro, who emerged from the backbenches of Congress to form a conservative coalition but has lost support as Brazil’s worst-ever death toll from the coronavirus pandemic mounts.
Lula has pledged to return to the state-driven economic growth and social policies that helped lift millions of people out of poverty during his two terms as president.
A former union leader born into poverty, Lula’s presidency was marked by a commodity-driven economic boom, and he left office with record popularity.
However, his Workers’ Party was later dogged by a deep recession and a record-breaking corruption scandal that saw him serve 19 months in prison on bribery charges, which were overturned by the Supreme Court last year.
Reporting by Anthony Bodle and Ricardo Brito in Brasilia, Brian Ellsworth, Ana Mano, Gabriel Araujo and Lisandra Paraguasu in Sao Paulo; Writing by Frank Jack Daniels and Anthony Bodle, Editing by Brad Haynes, Angus McSwan and Rosalba O’Brien
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