Lula supporter faces runoff in Brazil elections

Polls have closed in Brazil’s presidential election. With 99% of the votes counted, Dilma Rouseff remains in the lead, though she has failed to secure enough votes needed to avoid a runoff.

The anointed successor of the widely-popular President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, 62-year-old Rouseff represents the ruling Workers Party and has been Chief of Staff since 2005.

Drawing on the support of President Lula’s constituency, she was leading in her bid for presidency late Sunday, until poll officials announced she had failed to lock down the needed 50% of the votes, raking in only 46.9%. At the end of October, she will enter the second round of elections against her main rival José Serra, a former Secretary of State, who received 32.6%.

If elected, Dilma Rouseff would become Brazil’s first female president, joining the ranks of recent world leaders who have challenged gender barriers, including Germany’s Angela Merkel, Argentina’s Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, and Costa Rica’s Laura Chinchilla.

Outgoing president Lula da Silva been barred by the Constitution to run for a third term, though he is allowed to run again in four years time. In eight years of his presidency he has made Brazil one of the world’s largest developing economies, able manage its way out of the global financial crisis.

President Lula has been widely praised for Brazil's rapid rise into an economic powerhouse, and many now question whether his chosen successor will be able to keep up the pace. Dr. Kees Koonings, a development studies professor at Utrecht University in The Netherlands, has no doubt that Dilma Rouseff will.

“If the international economic circumstances remain favorable for Brazil, she will most likely continue on the path of economic expansion and [continue] increasing Brazil’s significance,” Koonings said.

Watch full interview with Dr. Kees Koonings

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The largest economy in South America and the second largest economy in the western hemisphere, Brazil is expected to grow 7.5% this year. As member of the BRIC block of countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), which are seen to symbolize the shift in global economic power, Brazil’s elections have gripped the world’s attention.

Brazil could be just the breath of fresh air that the developed countries of the West need. Boris Martynov from the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Latin American Institute thinks that emerging powers have what it takes to beat the challenges of the modern world.

“The international situation and the world… need some new blood, new ideas, new structures and new approaches to the foreign policy and to the international relations, because the quantity and the quality of the global problems push us to urgently find the ways and means to resolve those problems. I think that only the developed countries, only the West as such is no longer able to resolve those problems alone.”

Watch video for more comments from Boris Martynov

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