Bolsonaro Supporters Ask Military to Intervene After Election
Following his election loss last weekend, supporters of incumbent Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro have rallied across the country for the Brazilian military to intervene on the President’s behalf. So far, President Bolsonaro has showed no signs of questioning the results of Sunday’s tight election.
Military says Intervention “Out of the Question”
After populist Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was defeated by leftist politician Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Sunday in the second round of Brazil’s Presidential Elections, there were fears by many international observers that Bolsonaro would contest the election results. After waiting over a day to formally concede the election, it seems that the current President of Brazil will step down without issue. However, some of his supporters have had rallies around the country, South America’s largest, to ask the military to intervene on behalf of the President.
The Brazilian military has however ruled out such a move. Speaking to international news agency, Reuters, Reinaldo da Silva, a 65-year-old retiree, said that he was attending a pro-Bolsonaro rally in São Paulo to ask the military to intervene and stop the transition of power. “We hope the army will intervene in this situation, we know that those elections were fraudulent”, said the former government worker at a protest held outside military barracks. “I came today because I want Brazil to be free, socialism does not work with the Brazilian nation”, continued Mr. da Silva.
His sentiments were not isolated in Brazil after the elections, where Mr. Lula da Silva won by a slim margin of around 51% and the country is deeply split among regional lines. A majority of the country’s heavily populated southern and eastern coast, including the cities of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, were strongholds for President Bolsonaro, while the country’s north and heavily forested interior broke favorably for President-Elect Lula.
According to Brazilian media outlet G1, there were pro-Bolsonaro rallies held in all but two of Brazil’s states. The defense ministry of Brazil has maintained its position that the military is tied to defending the Constitution of Brazil and that peaceful protests are protected under that constitution. But some international observers are still looking warily at Brazil and Bolsonaro, who was a former army captain and who has sowed deep ties with the military since the beginning of his term.
Despite ties with the military, the Brazilian armed forces have so far pushed back on calls from their compatriots to intervene on the outgoing President’s behalf. “The military knows full well what their duty is: The constitution” said Paulo Chagas, a retired general and former campaigner for Bolsonaro. More calls to protect the constitution came from those closest to Bolsonaro, including General Otavio Rego Barros, a former spokesman for the President himself, who published a column in one of Brazil’s largest newspapers criticizing “groups with no sense of responsibility that still seek to destabilize a weakened social fabric with provocations and misinformation”.
An Election Surrounded by Scandal
Before the results of Sunday’s presidential runoff were even announced, Bolsonaro had made repeated claims that the election would not be free or fair and that any result would be tampered by election fraud. After losing by 5% in the first round of elections, the result of the run-off between Lula and Bolsonaro was expected by many in the country, although Bolsonaro did improve his margin of defeat from 5% to just under 2%.
Bolsonaro also made claims that his opponent should not have been eligible to run for President since Lula was convicted as part of a large corruption scandal linked to his Workers Party, but the indictment was overturned by Brazil’s Supreme Court. This line of ineligibility was often echoed by Bolsonaro’s supporters, with one supporter saying that the Supreme Court of Brazil had “sold out” to the Workers Party in order to allow Lula to run in this election. Despite weeks of nervousness from political analysts in the West about Bolsonaro’s actions in the event of a loss, it looks as if there will be a peaceful transfer of power in Brazil after all.
Following the news of Lula’s victory, world leaders, including Joe Biden, Vladimir Putin and Emmanuel Macron, offered their congratulations to the new leader of South America’s largest economy. This will be Lula’s second term serving as President of Brazil, a post he held previously from 2003 to 2010.