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Jair Bolsonaro follows Trump playbook with silence on stunning election defeat

Brazil’s defeated president Jair Bolsonaro has not yet conceded after his stunning election loss, with the country bracing for another ‘Trump’ style dispute over the results.

Mr Bolsonaro, a right-wing radical, has not publicly spoken or reacted since losing to leftist leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (known widely as Lula) by 2 million votes.

Observers are concerned the man dubbed the ‘Trump of the Tropics’ may follow Donald Trump’s playbook and obstinately dispute the outcome of the election, having openly suggested this in the past.

“So far, Bolsonaro has not called me to recognise my victory, and I don’t know if he will call or if he will recognise my victory,” Lula told tens of thousands of jubilant supporters celebrating his win.

The narrow result was a punishing blow to Mr Bolsonaro, the first Brazilian incumbent to lose a presidential election.

And it was a stunning comeback for the leftist former president Lula who won 50.9 per cent of votes against 49.1 per cent for Mr Bolsonaro.

On Tuesday morning (Australian time), the country was still waiting to hear from Mr Bolsonaro, even as many of his allies publicly accepted the loss and world leaders congratulated the incoming president.

Jair Bolsonaro, pictured on the campaign trail, has not said a word since his election defeat. Photo: Getty

The political commentator Bernardo Mello Franco tweeted that one by one, Mr Bolsonaro’s supporters were recognising Lula’s victory.

“This leaves the president without the political support to attempt any kind of coup-style adventure.”

One close Bolsonaro ally, lawmaker Carla Zambelli, in an apparent nod to the results, wrote on Twitter, “I PROMISE you, I will be the greatest opposition that Lula has ever imagined.”

In contrast to Mr Bolsonaro’s silence, congratulations for Lula poured in from foreign leaders, including US President Joe Biden, Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron.

A source in the Bolsonaro campaign told Reuters the president would not make public remarks until Monday (local time).

Open refusal

Mr Bolsonaro last year openly discussed refusing to accept the results of the vote, making baseless claims that Brazil’s electronic voting system was vulnerable to fraud.

International election observers said Sunday’s election was conducted efficiently. One observer told Reuters that military auditors did not find any flaws in integrity tests they did of the voting system.

Truck drivers believed to be Bolsonaro supporters on Sunday blocked a highway in four places in the state of Mato Grosso, a major grains producer, according to the highway operator.

In one video circulating online, a man said truckers planned to block main highways, calling for a military coup to prevent Lula from taking office.

Lula’s ‘pink tide’

Lula’s win consolidates a new “pink tide” in Latin America, after landmark leftist victories in Colombia and Chile’s elections, echoing a regional political shift two decades ago that introduced Lula to the world stage.

He has vowed a return to state-driven economic growth and social policies that helped lift millions out of poverty during two terms as president from 2003 to 2010.

He also promises to combat destruction of the Amazon rainforest, now at a 15-year high, and make Brazil a leader in global climate talks.

“These were four years of hatred, of negation of science,” Ana Valeria Doria, 60, a doctor in Rio de Janeiro who celebrated with a drink.

“It won’t be easy for Lula to manage the division in this country. But for now it’s pure happiness.”

A former union leader born into poverty, Lula organised strikes against Brazil’s military government in the 1970s.

His two-term presidency was marked by a commodity-driven economic boom and he left office with record popularity.

However, his Workers Party was later tarred by a deep recession and a record-breaking corruption scandal that jailed him for 19 months on bribery convictions, which were overturned by the Supreme Court last year.

Four years ago, Lula’s reputation and political future were in tatters.

“They tried to bury me alive, and I am here,” da Silva said in a speech on Sunday night after results that confirmed his third presidential win.

“I am here to govern in a very difficult situation. But I have faith in God that, with our people’s help, we will find a way out for this country.”

-with AAP

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