Police try new approaches in fighting crime as lawlessness dominates presidential poll.
Candidates in Brazil’s presidential race have wrapped up their campaigns ahead of Sunday’s vote to choose a successor to Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Latest opinion polls indicate that the ruling Workers’ Party candidate Dilma Rousseff looks set to win majority support and take the presidency in a first-round vote.
Brazil’s 135 million voters are expected to pick Rousseff, a former Marxist guerrilla turned career civil servant, as their first woman president on Sunday.
Rousseff, 62, has been campaigning with Lula da Silva for months and is expected to continue with many of the social policies that have made him a household name.
The president will leave office as the most popular leader in Brazilian history, with promise of wealth from new pre-salt oil discoveries and upcoming investments for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Programmes initiated by the outgoing leader are credited with lifting 20.5 million people from poverty since 2003 and boosting another 29 million into the middle class, creating new consumers who help drive the economy.
Brazil is now forecast to be the world’s fifth-largest economy by the time it hosts the Olympics, the first time the event will be held in South America.
Rousseff, who was the energy minister and chief minister in Lula da Silva’s cabinet, was virtually unknown to most Brazilians before being thrust into the spotlight as the outgoing leader’s anointed heir.
Her closest rival is Jose Serra of the opposition PSDB party. Marina Silva, a former environment minister, is the only other figure to make a mark in the nine-strong field vying for the presidency, but her role is limited to siphoning some votes away from Rousseff.
Al Jazeera’s Gabriel Elizondo, reporting from Brasilia, the capital, said: “Clearly, Dilma Rousseff has the wind in her sail, so to speak. There’s a growing sense in this country that her campaign is invincible; that she’ll get the over 50 per cent … that she needs to win this election.”
Our correspondent said Serra, whose campaign has been losing momentum, “has been pushing vigorously in the last couple of weeks saying, ‘No, we need to take this to the second round; we can’t let her win on the first round.'”
“That’s really the hope of the Serra campaign right now. That they can keep her below 50 per cent and take her to the second round,” he said.
Business leaders generally seem unconcerned over any incoming government changing course.
“From the speeches from the presidential candidates – from Dilma [Rousseff], from [Jose] Serra, from Marina [Silva] – there seems no plan from any of their economic teams to interfere with the basics of the Brazilian economy,” Edemir Pinto, the chief executive of Sao Paulo’s stock exchange told AFP.