Brazil set to elect new president

Ruling party candidate Rousseff goes into Sunday's second-round run-off with double-digit poll lead.

    Jose Serra is trailing in the polls going into the second round run-off against Dilma Rousseff [AFP] 

    Brazil will go to the polls on Sunday to elect a new president, with the ruling party's candidate Dilma Rousseff enjoying a double digit lead over rival Jose Serra on the last day of campaigning.

    If elected, Rousseff will become Brazil's first woman president. In a speech on Saturday, she struck confident tone, bolstered by a healthy lead over Serra in the final polls published before the vote. 

    "I will govern for all Brazilians. There will be no discrimination of parties. I won't govern only for my coalition," a beaming Rousseff told reporters in the state capital Belo Horizonte.

    Four opinion polls released on Saturday gave Rousseff a lead of between 10 and 13 percentage points, following a televised debate between the candidates late on Friday.

    "We should win with a minimum advantage of 10 percentage points and a maximum of 15 points," said Andre Vargas, communications secretary of Rousseff's Workers' Party.

    Return of democracy

    Both candidates wrapped up their campaigns in the key swing state of Minas Gerais, which in political circles is often referred to as "Brazil's Ohio," because it has been an accurate predictor of previous presidential elections.

    Since democracy returned in to Brazil in 1985 after two decades of military rule, every president has carried the state, which has the country's second-largest electorate.

    It has not all been plain sailing for Rousseff. She failed to secure the presidency in the first round of voting on October 3rd, forcing the election into a second round run-off against Serra. 
     
    Rousseff's strong position in the polls represents a strong rebound from several weeks ago when her campaign was hit by corruption allegations and questions over her religious beliefs.

    But by focussing on eight years of strong economic growth under Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the outgoing president, his former chief of staff has been able to attract the support of crucial swing voters.

    Many in Brazil say they support Rousseff because she has been endorsed by Lula, who remains popular with large sections of society.   

    "It was under President Lula that my children got the opportunity to study, which I never had," said Gumercinda Queiroga, 84, a supporter who greeted Rousseff before she embarked on a motorcade on the outskirts of Belo Horizonte.

    "Today, I have two apartments and live with dignity," said Queiroga, who promised to get up at dawn to vote for Rousseff.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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