Bolsonaro’s radio silence after Lula victory has Brazil worried

November 1, 2022 - 9:11 AM
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro looks on during a ceremony at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, June 29, 2021. (Reuters/Adriano Machado/File Photo)

More than 16 hours after losing the election to his fierce leftist adversary, Brazil‘s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has yet to say one word publicly, let alone concede defeat.

Brazil is on edge, with pro-Bolsonaro truckers setting up roadblocks in 12 Brazilian states.

The president has barely been seen since Sunday night, and he has kept total silence – an unusual stance for the normally voluble leader who likes to talk live and post constantly on social media, much like his political role-model former U.S. President Donald Trump.

His unusual silence has raised concerns that he is planning to contest the narrow victory by former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in Sunday’s runoff vote. Brazilians wondered if he was planning to contest the election or had realized that the game was up and he would have to concede.

While Bolsonaro’s silence has Brazilians concerned he might not concede, international election observers and diplomats said they did not doubt that Brazil‘s democratic institutions will prevail.

Time is running out to dispute the election result as many international leaders, political allies and high-profile supporters have already recognized Lula‘s victory. Meanwhile, the outgoing president has yet to call his rival to congratulate him on becoming Brazil‘s president-elect.

A senior staffer at Bolsonaro’s campaign headquarters said the president went unaccompanied from his official residence to the presidential palace on Monday morning, but he was declining meetings and calls even from his closest aides and political associates.

His three sons who are very active on social media have also maintained total radio silence and posted nothing since Sunday’s defeat was declared by Brazil‘s electoral authority.

One lampoon website, O Sensacionalista, joked that Lula‘s first achievement was that he managed to silence Bolsonaro for 16 hours.

—Reporting by Anthony Boadle and Ricardo Brito; Editing by Josie Kao