"He can't wear pants": speculation about Bolsonaro's whereabouts is growing

Shortly after his election defeat in Brazil, things went quiet about Jair Bolsonaro.

"He can't wear pants": speculation about Bolsonaro's whereabouts is growing

Shortly after his election defeat in Brazil, things went quiet about Jair Bolsonaro. His party wants to challenge the election, but fails in court. Meanwhile, wild guesses abound about the whereabouts of the outgoing president. The vice president says he can't wear pants at the moment.

Jair Bolsonaro has gone into hiding since his defeat in the Brazilian presidential election. He is holed up in his residence, creating an unsettling atmosphere of power vacuum in the country. The president, who will be in office until January 1, has not even appeared at high-level international meetings such as the G20 summit or the UN climate conference.

Bolsonaro narrowly lost the election three weeks ago to left-wing ex-President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Since then, the right-wing incumbent has avoided official appointments. Since then, many have speculated about the reasons for Bolsonaro's behavior: Is he sulking? Will he be consumed by anger?

Vice President Hamilton Mourão recently issued a statement: Bolsonaro is suffering from a rash on his leg. "He can't wear pants," Mourão told the O Globo newspaper. "And he can't perform in shorts." However, the President's office has not confirmed this information and Mourão himself does not appear to be convinced by his statement. Shortly before the "Globo" interview, he told the daily newspaper "Valor" that Bolsonaro had withdrawn to reflect.

Rumors are already circulating that Bolsonaro plans to travel abroad on inauguration day on January 1 to avoid having to hand Lula the presidential sash. Bolsonaro's withdrawal from the public eye began on the night of the October 30 runoff, which he lost by less than two percentage points. He didn't reappear until almost 48 hours later, to give a short speech announcing that he would respect Brazil's constitution. But he neither conceded defeat nor congratulated Lula.

The leader of Latin America's largest economy stayed away from the G20 meeting in Bali last week, leaving it to his vice president to collect credentials from new ambassadors. Bolsonaro's official schedule is virtually empty, and he's all but gone silent on Twitter and Facebook, where he's otherwise been ubiquitous.

Since Bolsonaro could attempt a comeback in four years, political scientist Oliver Stuenkel considers his silence to be a strategic move. From Bolsonaro's point of view, this is the best solution, as he is interested in "not losing the support of his most radical supporters" who are demonstrating in front of army bases for military intervention to keep Bolsonaro in power.

Supporters of the president-elect claim he was cheated out of his re-election without providing any evidence. Brazil's Supreme Electoral Court dismissed an appeal against the election results on Wednesday. The court ruled that Bolsonaro's Liberal Party (PL) had not provided any evidence of alleged malfunctions in hundreds of thousands of voting machines.

In the meantime, the online networks are also eagerly speculating about the reasons for Bolsonaro's silence. "Where is the wound preventing Bolsonaro from working? On his leg? His ego?" joked a Twitter user.

Sylvio Costa, founder of news website Congresso em Foco, said it may be "a case of denial turned into depression." After all, Bolsonaros had to accept an election defeat for the first time since the beginning of his political career in 1988 as a city councilor in Rio de Janeiro. The President also faces "dozens of investigations and lawsuits." But he thinks Bolsonaro is "completely unpredictable". He could "appear again with a coup speech" and try to disrupt the new government's inauguration as much as possible, Costa said.

While Bolsonaro continues to be a mystery, election winner Lula is using the time waiting to take office to position himself as the future head of state. He held high-level meetings and traveled to Egypt for the UN climate summit. There he announced a new beginning: "Brazil is back," said the future president.

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