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Brazil election: Bolsonaro supporters call for military intervention


BRASILIA — Electoral authorities have declared Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva the winner of Brazil’s presidential election. The incumbent he defeated, President Jair Bolsonaro, allowed the transition to begin.

Jo Carvalho thinks it’s time to call in the army.

“I would much rather live in a dictatorship than in a communist country,” said the 63-year-old retired teacher. When the military ran Brazil’s government from 1964 to 1985, she says, “there was a lot more order and things were calmer.”

“We would be much better off with them than with anyone. [Workers’ Party] government,” she said.

Their candidate defeated, thousands of Bolsonaro supporters gathered outside the army headquarters in the Brazilian capital on Wednesday to call for military intervention. Some said they wanted commanders to audit Sunday’s vote to verify that Lula’s victory was legitimate. Others, claiming without proof that the election was rigged or flawed, called for an outright coup.

“We don’t want a thief and a corrupt man as president,” said Cleuse Merlin, a 58-year-old teacher. “Just thinking about it makes me sick. The military, she said, “are our last hope.”

Analysts said a coup was unlikely. The Superior Electoral Court announced leftist Lula, a two-term former president, as the winner of what authorities described as a clean-cut election hours after polls closed on Sunday night.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has authorized a transition to begin on November 1 without conceding defeat to President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. (Video: Julie Yoon/The Washington Post)

The right-wing Bolsonaro emerged from a 45-hour post-election silence on Tuesday to thank his voters and say he would follow the constitution. He did not name Lula or concede defeat, but his chief of staff said he had been cleared to begin the transition. His vice president said ‘we lost the game’ and a judge said Bolsonaro told the court ‘it’s over’.

“The military will likely stay away,” said Robert Muggah, co-founder of the Rio-based think tank Igarapé Institute. “As it should, allowing civil institutions to manage the process.”

“The military are very pragmatic at this point,” said Guilherme Casarões, political analyst at the Getulio Vargas Foundation in São Paulo. “Most military officials are legalists in the sense that they obey the law. They’re not going to stage a coup attempt or anything like that. It’s not 1964.”

Bolsonaro does not concede defeat to Lula but lets the transition begin

Supporters of the president have been blocking highways and roads across Brazil since Lula was declared the winner on Sunday night. For months, Bolsonaro had cast doubt on the integrity of the electoral system, laying the groundwork for contesting a defeat, and on Tuesday afternoon he described their action as a fitting expression of “outrage and a sense of ‘injustice’.

It was all the encouragement that many bolsonarists needed. They began gathering outside the army headquarters in Brasilia on Tuesday evening; more went down to military barracks in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Curitiba. Dozens of highways, meanwhile, remained blocked Wednesday.

But on Wednesday night the president backtracked and urged his supporters to clear highways and roads, arguing the blockages hurt the economy and people’s right to move. He added, however, that protests taking place elsewhere were “welcome” as “part of the democratic game”.

“Brazilians protesting all over Brazil: I know you are upset, sad and expecting something else, me too. I am as upset and sad as you are. But we have to keep our heads straight,” he said in a video posted to his social media accounts.

“Please don’t think badly of me. I want you to be well. Let’s not throw this away. Let’s do what needs to be done. I am with you, and I am sure you are with me. The query is: Highways. Let’s erase them for the good of our nation,” he added.

Lula won the second and final round of Sunday’s election by less than two percentage points, the narrowest margin in a presidential vote here since the fall of the military dictatorship in 1985. For the lion of the Latin American left , this victory crowned a remarkable comeback. Less than three years earlier, he was serving a prison sentence for corruption and money laundering.

Lula was released after more than 19 months when the Supreme Court ruled he had been denied due process. The charges were later overturned. Some Brazilians believe he was released for a technicality and remains guilty. He proclaimed his innocence; supporters say he should never have been charged.

Bolsonaro did not concede anything to Lula. Does it follow Trump’s playbook?

Authorities said Wednesday’s protests were mostly peaceful. But at a roadblock in the southeastern town of Mirassol, a person allegedly drove a car into a group of people, injuring 15 people, four of them seriously, the state security secretariat said. from Sao Paulo. Videos on social media showed a gray car throwing people into the air and running over others. The alleged driver was arrested.

In Brasilia on Tuesday night, families with young children sat on folding chairs, grilled meats and drank beer from coolers. People carrying giant bright green and gold Brazilian flags waved. Some knelt in prayer around an evangelical pastor who called for divine intervention to “take the demons out” of the government and allow Bolsonaro to stay.

Dozens of people sang the national anthem: “It’s you, Brazil, oh beloved homeland!”

Lucas Miranda, a 27-year-old entrepreneur, said he does not support a military coup. But he wanted the army to launch an “investigation” to verify that the election was “clean and fair”.

“I am Brazilian first and foremost,” he said. “I am here for the love of my country, the constitution.” If the military certified the vote, he said, he would concede Lula victory.

Lula defeats Bolsonaro and wins a third term as president of Brazil

The army agreed in September that it would verify a sample of the vote from the first round of the Oct. 2 election. She did not announce the result of this examination.

Miranda dismissed comparisons between Bolsonaro and his ally, former President Donald Trump, who has yet to concede his 2020 election defeat to Joe Biden.

“Unlike Trump, Bolsonaro never told us to wreak havoc, impeach or invade anything,” he said. “We are not for violence or a coup. We just want the truth.

Lula has largely ignored Bolsonaro and the protests.

“I’m sure we’ll have a great transition,” he tweeted Tuesday after the president’s intervention. “We are going to build a government for all Brazilians.”

Analysts said the next few days could be crucial. If the protests grow, Casarões said, they could encourage Bolsonaro to act.

“If Bolsonaro sees he has massive support,” he said, “he’s probably going to escalate the situation.”

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