Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Dilma Rousseff Wins Brazil Election, Is Nation's First Female President

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Dilma Rousseff Wins Brazil Election, Is Nation's First Female President

Article excerpt

Dilma Rousseff won 56 percent of the vote in a Brazil election runoff after running on a campaign promising continuity with incumbent President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's policies.

Brazil elected its first female president Sunday, with voters choosing Dilma Rousseff to carry on the progressive policies of outgoing President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Ms. Rousseff, representing the left-of-center Workers' Party, won 56 percent of the vote in the runoff election, 12 percent more than Jose Serra of the centrist Brazilian Social Democratic Party. Rousseff won the first round in early October but failed to garner more than 50 percent of the vote.

Rousseff was the hand-picked successor of Mr. da Silva and her election means more of the same for the world's eighth biggest economy and fifth biggest country in terms of land and population.

The difference between the two leaders will come not in policy but in management style, says David Fleischer, the author of Brazil Focus, a weekly journal of politics. While da Silva, known widely as "Lula," chose to delegate, Rousseff will be more hands on, says Mr. Fleischer.

"I think she is going to be involved a lot more than Lula was involved," Fleischer says. "Lula had people stand in for him and Dima was like [his] like prime minister or president adjunct. She is known as a manager."

Vote for continuity

During Lula's two terms as president, Brazil's economy expanded and it was one of the few major nations not to feel the full brunt of the world economic crisis. A high school dropout and former union leader, Lula also reduced the gap between rich and poor and gave the country an increased prominence on the world stage.

Rousseff, a former Marxist guerrilla turned civil servant, offered continuity as her trump card, and it proved to be an effective one given that Lula has approval ratings of 80 percent. He is constitutionally forbidden from seeking a third consecutive term.

"I voted for Dilma [Rousseff] because I wanted continuity," says Severino da Silva, a 42-year old forklift driver who voted in Sao Paulo. …

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