Front-runner in Brazilian election denies corruption

With just three weeks before Brazilians go to the polls to decide who should fill the shoes of President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva, the campaign has abruptly been muddied by allegations of dirty-tricks campaigning and corruption on the part of the ruling party's candidate, Dilma Rousseff.

"Their democracy is one that uses the state apparatus to protect their comrades and persecute their adversaries," Jose Serra, the candidate for the opposition Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB), railed in a television debate on Sunday, citing reports of illegal kickbacks in the government.

In the past, Mr Serra has also accused President Lula's ruling Workers' Party of accessing the tax records of PSDB members to help forge political attacks against them.

A former governor of Sao Paolo state, Mr Serra is straining to slow Ms Rousseff's momentum at least to deprive her of the 50 per cent of votes she will need on 3 October to avoid a second run-off ballot four weeks later. It's an uphill task, however. A new poll published at the weekend showed her with precisely 50 per cent support against just 27 per cent for Mr Serra.

Ms Rousseff, a 62-year-old career civil servant with little obvious charisma, may be almost impregnable because of the enduring popularity of President Lula, who is widely credited with helping to give Brazil a new swagger on the world stage with zooming rates of economic growth. His policies have also helped lift swathes of its population out of poverty.

Gaps still remain. Brazil still has a woeful record on education, is weighed down by a government bureaucracy that Steve Jobs recently cited as the reason why he would not be putting an Apple shop in Rio de Janeiro, and must deal with a potholed transport infrastructure screaming for investment.

But nearing the end of his second term with an approval rating of around 70 per cent, Lula has taken a starring role in Ms Rousseff's campaign, giving her an almost insurmountable advantage.

Yet she found herself on the defence in the TV debate after a leading Brazilian news magazine said at the weekend that her former top aide, and now cabinet chief to President Lula, has been involved in kickbacks allegedly paid to a consulting firm run by her son by companies seeking government contracts. The official, Erenice Guerra, has strongly denied the claims.

Ms Rousseff also attempted to deflect any suggestion that the claims touched her reputation. "This is an electoral move being systematically made against me," she complained during the debate, noting that the allegations only concerned Ms Guerra's son. "I won't accept being judged based on what happened to the son of a former aide. It smells of an electoral manoeuvre."

In a statement, Ms Guerra accused the magazine, Veja, of attempting to interfere in the presidential race in the "least ethical" manner possible and said she intended to file a suit against it for slander.

Brazil's economic growth has been spurred in part by China's appetite for its natural resources and the discovery of large offshore oil reserves. Helping to enhance the national mood since Lula became president in 2003 meanwhile has been Brazil's success in luring both the soccer World Cup in 2012 and the summer Olympic games four years later in Rio de Janeiro.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before