Lula's party chooses poll candidate
President's chief of staff nominated as candidate for Brazil's presidential elections.
Last Modified: 21 Feb 2010 14:55 GMT
The backing of President Lula da Silva, right, has led
to dramatic rise in Rousseff's fortunes [AFP] 

Brazil's ruling political party has backed Dilma Rousseff, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's chief of staff, as its candidate for the October 3 presidential elections.

Lula's Workers' Party (PT) officially endorsed 62-year-old Rousseff as their candidate at its national convention in Brasilia on Saturday evening.

The popular outgoing president said that he expected her to win and go on to seek re-election in 2014.

"She has to create her style ... and I, like a fan in the stands, will have to cheer for her achievements and root for her to be successful and do what is best," Lula said in an interview published in the O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper.

Rousseff is currently running second in the race for the presidency, according to opinion polls, although she appears to gaing ground on Jose Serra, currently the governor of Sao Paulo.

Speaking to the Workers' Party national convention Rousseff said she would maintain fiscal discipline, a free-floating exchange rate, and inflation targets - the pillars of Lula's economic strategy.

"We will ensure macro-economic stability," Rousseff, a trained economist, said. She added that she felt "totally prepared" to govern the country.


Lula, a former union leader, urged Brazilian women to support Rousseff in an effort to battle gender inequality in a country where few women have risen to high political office.
"Women are still treated like second-class citizens," he said.

But some analysts have said that she lacks Lula's political savvy to manage often volatile party interests.

Unlike the popular Lula, Rousseff is generally seen as uncharismatic and prone to technocratic speech - which pollsters say could lose her votes in a country where a candidate's personality may outweigh campaign issues.

Rousseff must step down from her current post by April 3 in compliance with electoral law and will then have to negotiate with as many as 10 potential allied parties to forge a common campaign platform.

"I think the biggest obstacle Dilma will face is that she lacks the ability to communicate with the people," Romulo Carneiro, a town mayor in the northeastern Ceara state, said.

A poll released on Thursday by the private Brazilian Institute of Public Opinion and Statistics (IBOPE) estimated that Serra would get 36 per cent of the votes to Rousseff's 25 per cent if the election were to be held tomorrow.

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