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BRAZIL
Elections: A left turn
IPS, Latinamerica Press
10/22/2002
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Although he fell short of the votes needed to win in the first round, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s showing in the Oct. 6 presidential election was greeted by his supporters as an unprecedented victory. The leader of the Workers Party (PT), who received 46.4 percent of the vote, will face José Serra of the governing Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB) in a runoff on Oct. 27. Serra won 23.2 percent. Anthony Garotinho of the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB) finished third with 17.9 percent, followed by Ciro Gomes of the Workers Front (FT) with 12 percent.

A lathe operator who started working at age 14 and became a union leader in 1975, Lula founded the PT in 1980 and was elected to Congress in 1986. Three years later, he ran for president for the first time, but lost to Fernando Collor de Mello (1990-92), who was forced out of office on corruption charges. Lula ran again in 1994 and 1998, losing both times to outgoing President Fernando Henrique Cardoso (LP, Oct. 8, 1998, and Feb. 7, 2000).

More than 115 million Brazilians cast ballots in races that included the presidency, 27 state governor posts, all 513 seats in the lower house of Congress, 53 of the 81 Senate seats and seats in regional legislative assemblies. After the results were announced, Gomes and Garotinho threw their support behind Lula, while Serra received the backing of the right-wing Liberal Front Party (PFL), although that will not be enough for a runoff victory.

The winner, who will take office Jan. 1 for a four-year term, will face the challenge of stabilizing the teetering economy of a country marked by huge social and economic inequality. Instability in financial markets before the elections was attributed to the increasing likelihood that Lula would win in the first round of balloting (LP, July 15, 2002).

Lula has called for a broad-based agreement to lift the country out of its current financial crisis, which is characterized by capital flight and enormous public debt, and set it on the road to economic growth and increased employment. His efforts to gain widespread backing led him to choose José Alençar, owner of the Coteminas textile company, as a running mate. "Lula represents labor and I represent capital," Alençar said. 

BRASIL
Sources: UNDP, IBGE, ECLAC

Population

170.4 million

GDP

503.2 billion

External debt

US$259 billion

Unemployment rate

8.2%

Illiteracy rate

14.7%

Population living in poverty

33.6%

Income distribution

Wealthiest 20% of population accounts for 63% of income

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