Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff narrowly wins second term

Brazil's left-leaning President Dilma Rousseff was re-elected in the tightest race the nation has seen since its return to democracy three decades ago, after a bitter campaign that divided Brazilians like no other before it.

PTI| Last Updated: Oct 27, 2014, 10:00 AM IST
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff narrowly wins second term

Rio De Janeiro: Brazil's left-leaning President Dilma Rousseff was re-elected in the tightest race the nation has seen since its return to democracy three decades ago, after a bitter campaign that divided Brazilians like no other before it.

With 99 per cent of the vote counted, Rousseff had 51.5 per cent of the ballots, topping center-right challenger Aecio Neves with 48.5 per cent.

Rousseff's victory extends the rule of the Workers' Party, which has held the presidency since 2003. During that time, they've enacted expansive social programs that have helped pull millions of Brazilians out of poverty and into the middle class.

The choice between Rousseff and Neves split Brazilians into two camps those who thought only the president would continue to protect the poor and advance social inclusion versus those who were certain that only the contender's market-friendly economic policies could see Brazil return to solid growth.

The Workers' Party's time in power has seen a profound transformation in Brazil. But four straight years of weak economic growth under Rousseff, with an economy that's now in a technical recession, has some worried those gains are under threat.

"Brazilians want it all. They are worried about the economy being sluggish and stagnant but they want to preserve social gains that have been made," said Michael Shifter, president of the Washington-based Inter-American Dialogue. "The question is which candidate is best equipped to deliver both of those."

Rousseff and Neves have fought bitterly to convince voters that they can deliver on both growth and social advances. This year's campaign is widely considered the most acrimonious since Brazil's return to democracy in 1985, a battle between the only two parties to have held the presidency since 1995.

Neves has hammered at Rousseff over a widening kickback scandal at state-run oil company Petrobras, with an informant telling investigators that the Workers' Party directly benefited from the scheme.

Rousseff rejected those allegations and told Brazilians that a vote for Neves would be support for returning Brazil to times of intense economic turbulence, hyperinflation and high unemployment, which the nation encountered when the Social Democrats last held power.