Dilma Rousseff Becomes First Woman to Win Brazilian Presidency

[Source – Latin American Herald Tribune]

The Superior Electoral Tribunal announced that governing Workers’ Party candidate Dilma Rousseff became the first woman to win the Brazilian presidency after claiming 55.92 percent of the votes with 98.55 percent of the ballots counted

BRASILIA – Economist Dilma Rousseff, 62, of the governing Workers’ Party, or PT, on Sunday became the first woman to win the Brazilian presidency, garnering 55.92 percent of the votes with 98.55 percent of the ballots counted, the Superior Electoral Tribunal, or TSE, announced.

Her rival, Jose Serra, of the opposition Brazilian Social Democratic Party, or PSDB, pulled in 44.09 percent of the ballots in the runoff election, TSE president Ricardo Lewandowski announced.

Lewandowski said that Rousseff’s 11.9 percent advantage over Serra made it mathematically impossible for Serra to catch up and snatch away the presidency, even though all the votes had not yet been counted.

About 55 million Brazilians voted for Rousseff, with about 43 million casting their ballots for Serra, who had run for the presidency once before in 2002, losing on that occasion – also in a runoff – to now-outgoing and very popular President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is Rousseff’s mentor and strongly backed her.

In 2002, Lula garnered 61.4 percent of the votes to Serra’s 38.6 percent.

The official vote count approximates the split that had been predicted in recent weeks by pre-election voter surveys, which were finding that Rousseff had the support of about 55 percent of the people who said they were intending to vote.

Gubernatorial runoffs were also being held on Sunday in the states of Alagoas, Rondonia, Goias, Para, Paraiba, Piaui, Amapa and Roraima, as well as in the Federal District of Brasilia.

“I have no doubt that she (Rousseff) is going to make a great government for this country,” Lula told reporters after casting his ballot in Sao Bernardo do Campo, an industrial city in the Sao Paulo metro area.

Rousseff voted in the southern city of Porto Alegre.

Serra, for his part, has criticized Lula’s huge role in Rousseff’s campaign.

“Today, it’s our people who are speaking. It’s not the time for the politician to speak,” Serra said after voting at a polling place near his home in Sao Paulo’s Alto de Pinheiros district.

“This is one of the beautiful things about democracy. The people vote, the people decide. Now, we’re going to await the result from everywhere around the country,” Serra said, flashing the “V” for victory sign as he deposited his ballot.

“Tomorrow, a new phase of democracy begins and the people who assume the leadership of the country will have to have republican sense and democratic sense to govern for everyone,” Rousseff told reporters earlier in the day, before the vote count made it apparent that she had won.

Rousseff garnered 46.91 percent of the vote to Serra’s 32.61 percent in the first round of balloting on Oct. 3.

Some 135.8 million Brazilians between the ages of 18 and 70 were eligible to vote in the presidential election, however it appears that only somewhere on the order of 105 million – counting blank ballots and improperly marked ballots cast – went to the polls.