Brazil’s Bolsonaro tells supreme court that election battle against Lula ‘is over’

The country has seen widespread gridlock as pro-Bolsonaro protesters block highways

Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro’s administration has signalled a willingness to hand over power, two days after a nail-biting election loss to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and amid speculation the far-right incumbent might fight the result.

Mr Bolsonaro reportedly told members of Brazil’s supreme court his election battle against Mr Lula has come to an end.

Earlier, in a brief speech at the presidential palace, he said: “I have always played within the four lines of the constitution”, although he stopped short of conceding.

After a private meeting with Mr Bolsonaro, supreme court justice Luiz Edson Fachin said the conservative leader had said: “It is over. So, let’s look ahead.”


The justice made the comment in a video broadcast on local media.

Two other justices questioned by journalists declined to comment on the hour-long meeting. Brazil’s economy minister, Paulo Guedes, was also present, but did not comment.

In a subsequent statement, the top court said the justices told Mr Bolsonaro during the “cordial and respectful meeting” that it is important he recognises the election’s results, as well as the Brazilian people’s right to freedom of movement.

The country has seen widespread gridlock as pro-Bolsonaro protesters block highways.

Earlier, in his first public comments since results came in, Mr Bolsonaro did not concede, but immediately afterward his chief of staff told reporters the conservative leader had authorised him to begin the process of handing over power.

Mr Bolsonaro, who before the election had repeatedly questioned the reliability of the country’s electoral system, had little room for potentially rejecting the results.

US president Joe Biden and other international leaders have publicly recognised Lula’s victory, as have some of Mr Bolsonaro’s closest allies.

Cabinet members, governors-elect and evangelical leaders who have been strident supporters of Mr Bolsonaro are now offering overtures to the incoming leftist government.

Mr Bolsonaro lost Sunday’s race by a thin margin, gaining 49.1 per cent of the vote to Lula’s 50.9 per cent, according to the nation’s electoral authority.

It was the tightest presidential race since Brazil’s return to democracy in 1985, and marks the first time Mr Bolsonaro has lost an election in his 34-year political career.

Flanked by more than a dozen ministers and allies as he delivered a two-minute speech at the presidential residence, the fiery leader did not mention the election results.

Instead, he defended his tenure and said he supports ongoing protests by truckers who have erected nationwide roadblocks, as long as they don’t become violent.

“Current popular movements are the result of indignation and a feeling of injustice regarding how the electoral process occurred,” he said.

Much like former US president Donald Trump, whom Mr Bolsonaro admires, he has claimed that electronic voting machines are prone to fraud. He has not provided any proof, even when ordered to do so by the electoral court.

Many of his supporters also said they believed the election had been fraudulent and some called for military intervention and for Congress and the Supreme Court to be disbanded. – AP