Brazilians vote in presidential election

Brazilians are going to the polls today in national elections that could see front-running candidate Dilma Rousseff become the country's first female president, succeeding her popular ally and mentor.

Ms Rousseff, a 62-year-old former guerrilla, represents the ruling Workers Party and is the hand-chosen successor of outgoing President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who led Brazil to unparalleled economic growth and increasing political clout on the global stage.

The latest polls show her with a lead of about 20 percentage points over her closest rival, Jose Serra, a 68-year-old centrist from the Brazilian Social Democracy Party who was heavily defeated by Mr Silva in the 2002 election.

The campaign has been short on substance and long on arguing about who would more efficiently continue the policies of the Silva presidency - eight years during which some 20.5 million people have been lifted from poverty.

Ms Rousseff spent yesterday at Mr Silva's side working crowds in the industrial city of Sao Bernardo do Campo, just outside Sao Paulo, Mr Silva's hometown and a Workers Party stronghold. Trying to fight any complacency among her supporters, Ms Rousseff downplayed her lead in the polls and testily deflected questions about where she might hold a victory party.

Instead, she spoke of economic advances under Mr Silva, who is popularly referred to as Lula. Ms Rousseff laid claim to his legacy, saying she was the candidate to transform Brazil into an economic power that leaves nobody behind.

"We are only going to do it with the path that President Lula has opened," Ms Rousseff said. "I do not believe in a developed nation that has a part of its population marginalised. My goal is to continue President Lula's work at eradicating poverty."

Despite an ethics scandal that received heavy media coverage in the final weeks of the race, Ms Rousseff's ratings were barely troubled, and polls put her on the cusp of winning an outright majority today and avoiding a run-off on October 31.

Nevertheless, Mr Serra, who has struggled through a campaign that analysts said lacked focus and failed to resonate with many voters, expressed confidence that he would make it to a second round for another four weeks of campaigning during which voters could examine the candidates more closely.

"On Monday, it all begins again," he said while campaigning in Sao Paulo yesterday. "We are going to a second-round vote for the good of the country."

If the election does go to a run-off, it could be due to spoiler candidate Marina Silva, a former environment minister who is not related to the president.

In recent weeks, the Green Party candidate's standing in the polls rose from a steady 10% throughout the campaign to about 14% in the wake of the ethics scandal.

Yet even if forced into a run-off, Ms Rousseff is widely expected to become Brazil's next president.

"A second round would pit Dilma against Serra, but the difference between the two is too large to be breached in such a short period of time," said Amaury de Souza, a Rio de Janeiro-based political analyst. "Unless there is a new catastrophic disclosure regarding corruption or Dilma's health, she will win the second round."

About 135 million voters will also cast ballots for governors, mayors and state and federal houses of Congress.



Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future