Brazil's Lady President Favored to Win Runoff

Brazil-President-Dilma-Russeff.jpgBrazil's Dilma Vana Rousseff, the country's first female president, is expected to win a second four-year term when an estimated 115 million votes are counted in the Oct. 26 runoff election. Pollsters predict a 78 percent voter turnout, about the same as in 2010.
The 67-year-old Rousseff, Brazil's 36th president, received 41 percent of the Oct. 5 election vote, not enough for a 51 percent majority. Her main opponent, 54-year-old Social Democrat Aecio Neves, garnered 34 percent.  A third candidate, environmentalist Marina Silva, chalked up 21 percent. Eight other candidates split the remaining votes.
 Every personal registered vote counts in Brazil, unlike United States presidential elections where the real count is from the Electoral College, an antiquated voting system that includes total votes from each of the 50 states.
The runoff vote is expected to be close, even though Rousseff is the favorite. Her PT Workers Party takes credit for making the life of the poor a little easier over the last four years in a country of 202 million people.
Still, inflation is high, unemployment is also high and violence continues to spread in the larger metro areas. The country is technically in a recession. All these factors are behind a growing move for change in the country.
Rousseff's party has run the government for the past 12 years. She was previously the Chief of Staff former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva from 2005 to 2010.
Even though political corruption historically has never bothered the Brazilian voter too greatly, current political scandals surrounding state-owned oil company, Petrobras, make the headlines daily and are beginning to strike a discordant note with the citizenry. Street protests pop up regularly.
The political map of Brazil is divided. The poorer northern regions, where people have benefited from the government's welfare programs, are strongly pro-Rousseff.
Neves, who hails from a wealthy family dynasty with established political connections, is showing well in the industrial south, where his policies are regarded as more pro-business.
All of the candidates are evading the abortion issue but Rousseff's views are mostly pro-life. She supports abortion only for pregnancies which endanger the life of the mother or are the result of rape. In those cases, the current Brazilian legislation allows women to terminate their pregnancies.
However, she has been criticized by sectors of the Roman Catholic Church in Brazil and other religious groups, due to her past support for the legalization of abortion.
Rousseff opposes gay marriage, but supports same-sex civil unions. She also opposes the legalization of illegal drugs.
This columnist's pick: Rousseff, by a fingernail.

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