‘He cannot take power’: Bolsonaro’s seething supporters refuse to accept Brazil’s election result | World News


You only had to go to the rallies of the two presidential candidates to understand the stark differences between the camps. 

Lula’s political rallies were basically a street party with music and dancing – in contrast the Jair Bolsonaro rallies were more shouty and more serious.

Less party, more angry, if you like. And they are seething with anger right now.

Lula da Silva won the Brazilian election on Monday, beating Bolsonaro by a razor-thin margin.

It was Brazil’s most polarised election in recent memory, pitting far-right incumbent Bolsonaro against the leftist former leader.

Bolsonaro’s office may have conceded defeat, but millions of his supporters have not, and so they took to the streets of São Paulo and 70 other cities across Brazil.

The country’s green and yellow colours have been co-opted by Bolsonaro and his supporters, and those colours were everywhere – on Brazil’s national football jersey, flags, caps, and banners.

Supporters of Jair Bolsonaro protest Lula da Silva's win on the streets of São Paulo. Stuart Ramsay eyewitness
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro addresses the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
Jair Bolsonaro

The national flag waved above the crowds as they gathered outside the military’s southeastern command.

They chanted for President Bolsonaro, but they’re calling for an intervention.

Put simply, they want a military coup.

“Don’t turn our flag red!” they shouted. They despise the leftist policies of Lula da Silva and his Worker’s Party, and they want him out by any means.

Supporters of Jair Bolsonaro protest Lula da Silva's win on the streets of São Paulo. Stuart Ramsay eyewitness

Read more: Lula da Silva will face challenges in a divided country

Bolsonaro supporters are also very suspicious of the media, and journalists in general.

There have been a number of incidents in recent months of journalists being assaulted by President Bolsonaro’s more extreme fans.

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Who is Brazil’s new president?

We were stopped a number of times and asked who we were, where we were from, and which news organisation we worked for.

When we said we were from Great Britain, they visibly relaxed and were generally happy to talk.

Lula greeted the crowds alongside his wife (in red)
Lula greeted the crowds alongside his wife (in red)

Among the crowds were a large number of bikers, Bolsonaro himself an avid motorcycle enthusiast.

He often led his campaign rallies on his motorbike.

Dressed head-to-toe in his Harley Davidson leathers, 64-year-old Carlos Rubino sought me out in the crowd.

Supporters of Jair Bolsonaro protest Lula da Silva's win on the streets of São Paulo. Stuart Ramsay eyewitness
Carlos Rubino

He said he wanted the world to know what was going on here.

“He cannot take power,” Carlos told me, referring to Lula.

“The people on the streets, we want the military to take over and no election.”

I asked him if he’s really sure he wants the military to get involved. He confirmed “yes”.

“Any other guy could be elected, and we don’t have any problem, but not this guy, because he is a criminal.”

Lula was sent to prison in 2018 over a corruption scandal which sidelined him from that year’s election, paving the way for then-candidate Bolsonaro’s win and four years of far-right politics. His convictions were later annulled.

‘Fighting for our rights’

Supporters of Jair Bolsonaro protest Lula da Silva's win on the streets of São Paulo. Tania Valerio. Stuart Ramsay eyewitness
Tania Valerio

Tania Valerio was at first a bit shy, but was then persuaded by her friends to talk.

And she wasn’t shy to tell me what she thought.

“We are fighting for our rights, liberty, property, and family, our family above it all. No communists, please, we must fight until we have our liberty.”

Tania, like many here, believe the election was a fraud.

“The truth will come out, and there will be liberty for us,” she said.

Haulage lorries and their drivers were the first to begin the anti-Lula protests by blocking some of the country’s roads and major highways.

Supporters of Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro block highway BR-251 during a protest against President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva who won a third term following the presidential election run-off, in Planaltina, Brazil, October 31, 2022. REUTERS/Diego Vara TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Supporters of Bolsonaro blocked highways and roads after his narrow election loss

They have become a symbol of the protest movement against the election result.

They turned up today, honking their horns to huge cheers as they edged their way through the packed streets.

Many here thought Bolsonaro’s carefully worded non-concession, concession address to the nation would dampen the fervour of his supporters. It hasn’t.

“The people are coming to the streets and will still come to streets today, tomorrow, until this situation will be finished, because we don’t want this president, we don’t want this,” another supporter Lou Arouk insisted.

But keeping the momentum going, when even Bolsonaro’s strongest political allies have publicly said the game is over, will be hard for these people to achieve.

It was a close election, but they did lose.


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