(photo credit: Associated Press)
SAO PAULO — A former Marxist guerrilla chosen by Brazil's beloved leader
to succeed him will face a centrist rival in a presidential runoff
after narrowly failing to get enough votes to win Sunday's election
outright, according to official results.
Dilma Rousseff, a 62-year-old career bureaucrat trying to become
Brazil's first female president on the ruling Workers Party ticket,
captured 46.6 percent of the vote but needed 50 percent to win in the
first round of balloting.
New consul named for Sao Paulo, Brazil
Former Sao Paulo state governor Jose Serra got 32.8 percent support, while Green Party candidate Marina Silva got a surprising 19.5 percent, likely spoiling Rousseff's chance of a first-round win by syphoning off votes. The results came with 98 percent of the votes counted, according to Brazil's Supreme Electoral Court.
The runoff election on Oct. 31 will pit Serra against Rousseff, who
analysts say will be the heavy favorite, though a series of recent
scandals could hurt the ruling party candidate
"A second round is a whole new ball game. Everything starts from zero,"
said Alexandre Barros, with the Early Warning political risk group in
Brasilia. "I would say Dilma has a strong chance of winning a second
round. But it will all depend on what new facts emerge during the
Rousseff is the personal choice of outgoing President Luiz Inacio Lula
da Silva, universally known as Lula, who led Brazil to unparalleled
economic growth, increased the nation's political clout on the global
stage, and leaves office with 80 percent approval ratings.
Rousseff has left behind her radical rebel youth and pledged to stick to
the pragmatic market-friendly policy charted by Silva that have lifted
millions out of poverty.
Serra is a 68-year-old from the Brazilian Social Democracy Party and
former mayor and governor of Sao Paulo who was badly defeated by Silva
in the 2002 election. He, too, has promised to continue the policies of
"In the last election, I voted for Lula, who has improved the lives of
millions of poor and made Brazil a country respected around the world,"
said Maria Silveira, a 63-year-old retired teacher voting in Sao
Bernardo do Campo, just outside Sao Paulo, where Silva also cast his
ballot. "It only makes sense to vote for the candidate who I know will
continue what he started."