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Tags: Brazil | vote

Polls Favor Status Quo as Brazil Goes to Polls

Sunday, 05 October 2014 08:18 AM EDT

Brazilians went to the polls Sunday with President Dilma Rousseff expected to fail to secure the 50 percent necessary to avoid a runoff vote.

The telenovela-like drama of the race -- a candidate's death in a fiery plane crash, a poor maid's rise to the cusp of the presidency, a seedy oil scandal -- continued down to the wire.

On the eve of the vote, Marina Silva, the environmentalist whose meteoric rise once looked unstoppable, slipped to third place behind business-world favorite Aecio Neves, a social democrat.

Silva, a former environment minister, is bidding to become Brazil's first "poor, black president." But opinion polls show Rousseff enjoying a double digit first round lead and defeating either of her rivals by around a five percent second round margin.

Surveys gave Silva, a one-time maid and rubber-tapper, between 21 percent and 24 percent of the vote, trailing Neves (24-27 percent) and Rousseff (41-46 percent).

The campaign was upended in August, when then-third-place-candidate Eduardo Campos of the Socialist Party died in a plane crash.

Silva, his 56-year-old running mate, swooped into the race with a promise to bring a "new politics" to Brazil.

She quickly shot into the lead. But a series of missteps, including flip-flopping on gay marriage, saw her lose momentum.

Final opinion polls out Saturday gave Neves, the grandson of a former president and the business world's favorite, an edge ahead of her for the first time.

However, with a huge Workers Party (PT) machine behind her and support from still popular former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who started the extensive welfare reforms that have lifted some 40 million people out of extreme poverty over the past decade, Rousseff is expected to win another four years.

Even so, she is hampered by a recession-hit economy and corruption scandals, meaning the daughter of a Bulgarian immigrant businessman has no guarantees of winning.



"I think the vast majority of Brazilians who want to see a change in Government are now rallying around Aecio," said Marcos Troyjo, a Brazilian political scientist from Columbia University.

"The momentum is definitely going his way at the eve of the first round. If he indeed makes it to the run-off, it will be a close call. Unlike Marina Silva's, his party is well structured throughout Brazil. Brazilians will hold their breath."

However, Julia Sweig, director for Latin American studies at the US-based Council on Foreign Relations, cautioned that Neves's voter base is "far too diverse to put him into office."

Security was tight after several days of urban violence that claimed at least five lives in former capital Rio de Janeiro and in the southern state of Santa Catarina.

Overall, more than 400,000 security personnel, including 30,000 military, were deployed to provide security during the voting.

The Superior Electoral Court banned voters from taking cell phones or any other electronic devices into booths to protect the secrecy of the vote.

In the northern state of Amazonia, troops were on hand to boost security and assist with logistics in far-flung areas with a large indigenous population.

More than 142 million Brazilian voters were called upon to cast their ballots in the presidential and legislative elections.

In addition to picking a new leader, voters were also electing 27 state governors, 513 congressmen and 1,069 regional lawmakers, as well as a third of the senate.

Initial results were expected around midnight (2100 GMT), the counting process aided by high-tech electronic voting procedures.



The election, the closest in a generation for Latin America's largest democracy, is widely seen as a referendum on 12 years of government by the PT.

Rousseff, a former guerrilla who was jailed and tortured for fighting the country's 1964-1985 dictatorship, has been battered in recent weeks by a corruption scandal implicating dozens of politicians -- mainly her allies -- at state-owned oil giant Petrobras.

But she insists her administration has done what it can to help bring incidences of graft to light.

Rousseff cast her ballot in the southern city of Porto Alegre about 45 minutes after polls opened.

Neves will stay in Belo Horizonte, and Silva will vote in Acre in the Amazon.


© AFP 2023

Brazilians went to the polls Sunday with President Dilma Rousseff expected to fail to secure the 50 percent necessary to avoid a runoff vote.The telenovela-like drama of the race -- a candidate's death in a fiery plane crash, a poor maid's rise to the cusp of the...
Brazil, vote
Sunday, 05 October 2014 08:18 AM
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