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Dilma Rousseff poised to take Brazil’s presidency in second round

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Millions of Brazilians will once again go to the polls Sunday to pick a successor to the highly popular president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. As expected, Lula’s protege, Dilma Rousseff, is leading in last-minute polls over Jose Serra, the former governor of Sao Paolo state. Rousseff served as Lula’s chief of staff and is running as a continuity candidate. In the first round of voting Oct. 3, Rouseff fell short of a majority but bested Serra with 47% of the vote to his 33%.

If elected, Rousseff would be Brazil’s first woman president and oversee of a surging global economy that is also Latin America’s largest.

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Abortion became an issue in the final stretch of the campaign. Third-party Green candidate Marina Silva energized religious voters in the first round with her opposition to abortion, taking 19% of votes. Silva remained neutral in the second round but forced social and morality issues to the forefront of the campaign as it drew on.

In debates, both Rousseff and Serra said they would be against changing Brazil’s ban on abortion if elected, although videos surfaced in which Rousseff apparently signalled she’d support its decriminalization. Both candidates also said they were against gay marriage. ‘We have shown in the elections that we have a lot of power,’ an evangelical preacher told BBC News.

Even Vatican City chimed in on the topic. On Thursday Pope Benedict XVI urged bishops in Brazil to remind voters of the church’s opposition to abortion.

Yet voters seemed to have made up their mind as Sunday approaches. In Brazil’s electoral ‘Ohio,’ the state of Minas Gerais, Serra supporters are not optimistic about last-ditch efforts for an upset. Rousseff has successfully shifted attention back to the successes of her benefactor, Lula, and is currently pulling away from Serra with a 10-point lead, Reuters said.

— Daniel Hernandez in Mexico City


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