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BRAZIL
Surprising first-round results
Latinamerica Press
10/9/2014
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Road to reelection turns complicated for President Dilma Rousseff.

For weeks before the October 5 presidential elections, polls solidly showed a run-off vote between President Dilma Rousseff, running for reelection on the Workers´ Party (PT) ticket, and environmentalist Marina Silva, head of the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB). In a distant third place was Aecio Neves, of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB).

But indecision by Silva —who was the running mate to PSB presidential candidate Eduardo Campos when he died in a plane crash on August 13—  and her ultra-conservative opinions on abortion, same-sex marriage, and the fight against homophobia took their toll. Just days before voters headed to the ballot box, Silva dropped to third place.

Official results show that 42 percent of voters chose Rousseff, with Neves following at 34 percent. The two will face off on October 26. Now it´s up to Silva, with 21 percent, to decide which way the scales tip.

For now, she has only said that “Brazil clearly showed it is not ok with the status quo,” referring to the current PT government. But the PSB has yet to officially back either of the finalists, and may leave that up to voters.

After hearing the results, Neves called on Silva to “join forces” to defeat Rousseff. The president said “the Brazilian people crave more progress and says they see in what I represent the most legitimate and reliable force for change.”

“The fight continues and it will be victorious,” she added.

Short and intense campaign
This will be the sixth time the PT and PSDB compete in the second round of a presidential election. The PSDB won in 1994 and 1998 with Luiz Henrique Cardoso (1994-2002). The PT got the presidency in 2002 and 2006 with Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (2002-2010), and again in 2010 with Rousseff.

Although Neves is categorized as a social democrat, he is a defender of the more liberal economic policies implemented by former president Cardoso, and his proposals are antagonistic to the PT. He will try to convince the electorate, especially Silva´s supporters, that he will get the currently stagnating economy back on track.

Rousseff is favored by major social advances under her administration –the result of programs implemented by successive PT governments. Brazil also became the seventh largest economy in the world during her tenure. For the next four years, the president proposes to promote local industry, protect jobs, encourage investment in infrastructure, and expand the coverage of social programs.

Several analysts believe Rousseff and Neves have the same chance of becoming president.

“Aécio Neves was reborn from the ashes and is going into the second round with a lot of strength. I think Rousseff and Neves each have a 50 percent chance of being elected. It will be a very short and intense campaign,” analyst André César of Brazilian consulting firm Prospectiva told reporters.

Brazil´s 143 million voters also elected governors of the 27 states, 54 of 81 senators and 513 national representatives. —Latinamerica Press.


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