Lula's party chooses poll candidate

President's chief of staff nominated as candidate for Brazil's presidential elections.

    The backing of President Lula da Silva, right, has led
    to dramatic rise in Rousseff's fortunes [AFP] 

    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.

    'Uncharismatic'

    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.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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