Brasilia: In the recently held presidential elections, Brazilians have voted in a way so as to necessitate the run-off elections as incumbent President Dilma Rousseff failed to win an outright majority despite grabbing the maximum number of votes.
Left-leaning Rouseff, who notched the highest percentage of votes (42%) is pitted against centre-right rival Aecio Neves, who managed 34% votes.
The run-off vote, which analysts say will be a cliffhanger, is scheduled for October 26.
What looked startling was how the Socialist Party candidate, prominent environmentalist Marina Silva, was forced out of race with mere 21% votes.
Hailing the results, Rousseff said people had rejected "the ghosts of the past, recession and unemployment", and vowed to continue to work for change, reported the BBC.
Neves' rise was as surprising as the fall from grace of former environment minister Marina Silva, in late August, held a double-digit lead over Rousseff in polls.
Silva was thrust into the race when her Socialist Party's first candidate died in a plane crash.
But over the past three weeks, the powerful political machine of Rousseff's Workers' Party eviscerated Silva with what some analysts called the most negative and aggressive campaigning Brazil has seen since returning to democracy nearly 30 years ago. Silva fell hard in polls and could never regain her footing or get her message out.
Neves, however, had the backing of the well-organized Social Democracy Party, which held the presidency from 1994 until 2002, a period when Brazil tamed its hyperinflation and turned its economy around.
Neves is an economist and former two-term governor of Minas Gerais, Brazil's second-most populous state, where he left office in 2010 with an approval rating above 90 percent.
He has strong name recognition in Brazil. Neves began his political career at age 23 as the personal secretary to his grandfather, Tancredo Neves, a widely beloved figure who was chosen to become Brazil's first post-dictatorship president but fell ill and died before taking office.
Neves emphasized those family roots in a statement late Sunday.
"What I can say, what comes to mind, is what my grandfather Tancredo said 30 years ago when he won the elections for president of the republic: 'We must not get dispersed. We are just in the middle of our path.' And I hope to be able to walk alongside every Brazilian who wants a dignified and efficient government to the end. I am going to fight for that," he said.
One year after his grandfather's death, Neves was elected to the first of four terms as congressman. The 54-year-old father of three also served one term as senator.
Neves' reputation took a hit in July, Brazil's biggest newspaper Folha de S.Paulo alleged Neves' government spent around $5.5 million to build an airport on land belonging to an uncle of the then-governor. Neves later contested the accusations in an editorial in the same newspaper.
As for the fall of Silva, it was Rousseff's aggressive campaigning that cut her support.
It was thought Silva could tap into the widespread disdain Brazilians hold for the political class — anger that boiled over into roiling, nationwide anti-government protests last year.
But she couldn't withstand a barrage of attacks labeling her as indecisive and without the mettle needed to lead the globe's fifth-largest nation — the message pounded on by Rousseff.
Rousseff promises to expand social programs and continue strong state involvement in the economy, even though critics complain it creates a poor business environment and the main stock market tumbled every time a new poll showed her on the rise.
Neves offers more centrist economic approaches, such as central bank independence, more privatizations and the pursuit of trade deals with Europe and the United States.
With Agency Inputs