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Bolsonaro meets Lula's team to begin transfer of power

November 4, 2022

The meeting between President Jair Bolsonaro and president-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's advisers comes as Bolsonaro continues not to speak about his election defeat directly himself.

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula waves to supporters gathered on Paulista Av. after he defeated incumbent Jair Bolsonaro in a presidential run-off election to become the country's next president
Lula defeated Bolsonaro by just over 2 million votesImage: Andre Penner/AP Photo/picture alliance

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro met president-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's advisers on Thursday starting the process of transition of power after his recent election loss.

The meeting comes as Bolsonaro is still yet to directly address his own defeat after Sunday's election results gave leftist Lula a narrow victory over his far-right opponent.

Geraldo Alckmin, the vice president-elect in charge of Lula's transition team, met with Ciro Nogueira, the head of Bolsonaro's Cabinet, in the capital Brasilia.

"The conversation was very fruitful, very objective," Alckmin later said. "The transition has begun ... As Lula said in his victory speech, our task is to unite Brazil. So here we go."

Alckmin said that they would start revealing the transition team's composition on Monday.

Lula has difficult fight ahead in Congress

Earlier, Alckmin, a seasoned center-right politician known for being business-friendly, met with Marcelo Castro, the Senate's budget rapporteur, for what he described as another "fruitful" discussion. Castro was looking for ways to integrate important Lula campaign pledges into the highly constrained 2023 federal budget.

President-elect Lula also faces an uphill battle in the Congress. There, three of the four largest parties will be right-wing or center-right, with Bolsonaro's Liberal Party (PL) the largest single group.

Lula's primary challenge will be delivering on his electoral pledges to solve the failing economy, the food crisis, and the widespread devastation of the Amazon rainforest.

The 77-year-old Lula, who presided over Brazil from 2003 to 2010, was elected to an unprecedented third term, crowning an incredible return for the former metalworker who had been released from jail three years prior on the basis of since-quashed corruption charges.

Roadblocks called off

This year's election was the closest yet since Brazil's return to democracy in 1985. Lula defeated Bolsonaro by just over 2 million votes, at 50.9% to 49.1%.

A supporter of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro holds a sign that reads in Portuguese: "No to Communism!" during a protest  in Sao Paulo, Brazil
Bolsonaro's supporters came out to protest after the election results were announced, blocking highways across the country Image: Matias Delacroix/AP/picture alliannce

Tensions were rife after Bolsonaro did not concede defeat publicly and his supporters blocked highways across the country demanding military action to overturn the election results.

There had been considerable speculation that Bolsonaro, following the example of former US President Donald Trump, would raise allegations of fraud and contest the results of Sunday's election. 

Bolsonaro's chief of staff did say the president would cooperate with the transition of power after Bolsonaro's first public appearance following the election results on Tuesday. But the president did not concede defeat or congratulate Lula himself. 

Nor did he on Wednesday when appealing  to his supporters to clear the blockades. In a video, the Brazilian president said, "I know you're upset. I'm just as sad and upset as you are. But we have to keep our heads straight."

By Thursday afternoon, there were 32 roadblocks, down from 250 on Tuesday, according to officials.

Brazil's Bolsonaro urges supporters to clear roadblocks

ss/msh (AP, AFP, Reuters)