Brazil's leftist president re-elected in landslide

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was re-elected in a landslide last night as Brazilians rewarded their first working class leader for helping ease grinding poverty and improving the economy of Latin America's largest nation.

The leftist former union leader, who had the support of tens of millions of poor voters, easily topped center-right rival Geraldo Alckmin, whose tepid campaign style and robotic imagine failed to win over ordinary Brazilians.

Silva had 61 percent support compared to 39 percent for Alckmin, Sao Paulo state's former governor, with 99 percent of the votes counted. Election officials declared Silva the winner.

"We're going to do a lot better in my second term than we did in the first," Silva told cheering supporters in a Sao Paulo hotel. "The foundation is in place, and now we have to get to work."

Beaming as he wore a white T-shirt emblazoned with "It's Brazil's Victory" in the yellow and green of the Brazilian flag, Silva promised to boost growth and reduce inequality to put the country on track to reach the ranks of developed nations.

Silva's win came after Alckmin made a surprisingly strong showing in a first round of voting on Oct. 1, getting enough votes to prevent Silva from winning outright and forcing Sunday's runoff. Alckmin's first round surge in support came as Silva's Workers' Party was pounded by allegations of corruption, vote-buying and illegal campaign financing.

But Brazil's first elected leftist president rebounded Sunday with the help of poor voters who have benefited handsomely over the past three years as Silva increased social spending without raising taxes.

Alckmin hit the corruption allegations hard again, but to less effect this time around.

While Silva came to power four years ago by employing strong leftist rhetoric, he ended up governing as a centrist and employed conservative economic policy in his first term. He is considered more moderate than South American leftist leaders like Bolivia's Evo Morales and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, and analysts said Silva probably won't change much in his second term.

Silva's economic policy "should remain more or less in the same line as before, but Silva will have to implement policies to increase growth and decrease unemployment," said David Fleischer, a political scientist at the University of Brasilia.

After voting at a school in the industrial Sao Paulo suburb of Sao Bernardo do Campo where he gained fame as a union leader opposing Brazil's 1964-85 military dictatorship, Silva declared he would work harder in a second term to ease Brazil's vast divide between rich and poor and improve education.

The push, he said, would help Brazil "take a leap in quality in the world of politics, economics and business."

Nearly 126 million Brazilians voted in Sunday's runoff elections for president and for governor in 10 of Brazil's 27 states where elections were not decided in the first round.

Alckmin didn't immediately comment on the outcome, though Silva and an aide said he made a phone call to congratulate the president on his victory.

Earlier Sunday, Alckmin voted in Sao Paulo's upscale Morumbi district accompanied by former-President Fernando Henrique Cardoso and the state's governor-elect Jose Serra, who lost to Silva in the 2002 presidential elections.

Silva's campaign has been dogged by a scandal in which the news media ran photos of US$770,000 (¤607,000) in cash that members of his Workers Party allegedly planned to spend on purchasing an incriminating file about Alckmin and his allies.

The charges followed a string of corruption allegations against Silva's leftist Workers' Party. While Silva was never personally implicated, the exposes reinforced suspicions of government corruption - suspicions stressed by Alckmin in his campaign speeches.

Cardoso, who was president for eight years prior to Silva, continued to hammer at the allegations against Silva's party, known here at the PT.

"The PT can't cover up the crimes, Brazil has to investigate," Cardoso said. "Brazil is tired of impunity."

Still, Alckmin failed to make the corruption charges stick to Silva.

Instead, Silva battered his opponent with accusations that the former governor of Brazil's richest state would privatize cherished state industries and end the popular Family Allowance program that provides monthly payouts to 11 million poor families as long as they keep their children in school and get them vaccinated.

While Alckmin repeatedly said he would continue the program, analysts say it helped lift millions out of poverty and translated into guaranteed votes for Silva.

Silva also managed to reduce Brazil's notoriously high inflation through high interest rates, and prices of staples like rice and beans even dropped.

Alckmin criticized Brazilian growth as lackluster compared to the rest of Latin America, but Aloisio Pisco, a 36-year-old doorman, said Silva's handling of the economy earned him the right to a second term.

"Lula, he's the best," Pisco said. "He's created jobs and prices are cheaper."

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: Technical Author / Multimedia Writer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This recognized leader in providing software s...

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent