Bolsonaro also alluded to claims that the election had not been fair.
Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, has broken his almost two-day silence over his defeat in Sunday’s election – but refused to congratulate or recognise the victory of his rival Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
Bolsonaro, 67, lost what was widely seen as Brazil’s most important election in decades by a margin of 2.1m votes – 50.9% to 49.1% – and dozens of world leaders swiftly recognised Lula’s victory.
But Bolsonaro said nothing, with local media suggesting the erratic rightwing populist was holed up in his presidential residence consumed by anger, despondency and disbelief.
In a brief appearance yesterday afternoon, Bolsonaro at last broke his silence, amid growing public indignation at his undemocratic stance.
“Our dreams are more alive than ever,” he told journalists at the Alvorada palace in Brasília.
However, Bolsonaro, the first serving president to lose a re-election bid in Brazilian history, made no mention of the election’s winner and did not say if he accepted the result.
He thanked the 58 million voters who had backed his campaign but did not allude to the 60 million who voted for his opponent.
“As president and as a citizen I will continue to follow all the commandments of our constitution,” he said ambiguously.
Bolsonaro also alluded to baseless claims that the election had not been fair.
He said the post-election protests being staged by hardcore supporters – including using trucks and tyres to block key highways – were the fruit of “indignation and a feeling of injustice about how the electoral process played out”.
“Peaceful protests will always be welcome,” Bolsonaro said, adding, however, that destruction and impeding people’s right to come and go was not acceptable.
After Bolsonaro had delivered his message, his chief of staff Ciro Nogueira indicated that his administration would not contest the election result.
“President Jair Bolsonaro … has authorised me that when provoked according to the law we will begin the transition process,” he said.
The Rio-based political analyst Thomas Traumann said Nogueira’s remarks represented a formal recognition that Bolsonaro had lost and that there would be a change of power at the end of the year.
The supreme court echoed that interpretation in a statement which said that by greenlighting the transition process, Bolsonaro had “recognised the final result of the elections”.
Traumann said he believed Bolsonaro’s refusal to categorically concede and his signal to protesters reflected a behind-thescenes effort to secure some kind of informal amnesty to shield him from prosecution once he steps down.
Observers believe that after leaving power Bolsonaro could find himself exposed to a multitude of possible investigations relating to fake news, anti-democratic behaviour, alleged corruption and his handling of a Covid pandemic which killed nearly 700,000.
“He is clearly afraid of prison … so what he’s trying to do is negotiate with the only card he has left, which is big street protests,” Traumann said.
Last night Bolsonaro was reportedly locked in talks with at least six supreme court members as part of supposed negotiations.
Guilherme Amado, a prominent political journalist, said Bolsonaro planned to “request that neither he nor his family be persecuted” once he left office.