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The toughest Brazilian presidential campaign in decades takes off

July 7th, 2010

Dilma Rousseff and Jose Serra

Brazil officially launched Tuesday the campaign for October presidential election which begins with a polarized scenario and the two main candidates, incumbent Dilma Rousseff and opposition hopeful Jose Sierra virtually even in vote intention according to the latest public opinion polls.

The election for the successor of President Lula da Silva, the most popular leader in Brazil since Getulio Vargas in the fifties, promises to be the most hard-fought in recent history and the first since 1989 in which the former union leader is not running.

Lula da Silva’s whose support stands at 80% took office January first, 2003, was re-elected in October 2006 but is barred constitutionally from a third consecutive mandate.

Lula da Silva handpicked as his political heir Dilma Rousseff, (62) an economist with a guerrilla past who performed as Mines and Energy minister and later cabinet chief. Named the ‘Iron Lady’ of Lula da Silva’s administration she is known for her tough character but has never run for an elected post.

Rosussef has the support of Lula da Silva’s Workers Party and most other parties that make up the ruling coalition, mainly the Brazilian Democratic Movement party, PMDB, who named Michel Temer as her running companion in the presidential ticket.

The opposition has chosen Jose Serra, former governor and mayor of Sao Paulo, former Planning and Health minister under ex President Fernando Cardoso (1995/2003), who was defeated by Lula da Silva in October 2002. Serra belongs to the Brazilian Social Democracy party (PSDB) and counts with the support of other minority parties.

The latest opinion polls anticipate a tough fight vote for vote with both candidates showing a support of 40%.

A distant third in environmentalist Marina Silva from the Green Party and former Environment minister in Lula da Silva’s cabinet for six years who abandoned the Workers Party after thirty years militancy over differences with Rousseff over ‘aggressive development plans’ for the Amazon.

Ms Silva has a vote intention of 10% which makes her crucial for any runoff since none of the two main candidates is forecasted to manage the 50% plus one vote next 3 October. Another nine candidates only account for less than 2% of vote intention.

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