Polls open in Brazilian election to pick Lula’s successor


Rio de Janeiro : Polls opened Sunday in a Brazilian presidential runoff which was to deliver the successor of the hugely popular President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

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Polling stations in most of the country opened at 1100 GMT and were to close nine hours later, with exit poll and the first preliminary official results expected soon afterwards, since electronic voting is in place.

Close to 136 million people are registered to vote. While voting is compulsory for Brazilian adults, people can try to justify their absence or pay a small fine, and abstention figures are usually around 18 percent.

This time, however, voter turnout could be affected by a long holiday weekend that ends with All Soul’s Day Tuesday. If the weather is good, many fear that some will prefer to skip voting.

Lula’s anointed successor, Dilma Rousseff, is favoured to win comfortably, after leading opinion polls for months and carrying the most votes – 47 percent – in the first round Oct 3.

Rousseff, 62, Lula’s former chief of staff and candidate of the ruling Workers’ Party (PT), will face off against Jose Serra, 68, of the Party of Brazilian Social Democracy (PSDB), who got 33 percent of the first-round vote.

Rousseff has vowed to continue on Lula’s footsteps and Serra promised to build on Lula’s achievements but with less corruption and with a more efficient use of resources.

Lula, who carries an 80 percent popularity rating, could not stand for re-election because of a two-consecutive-term limit.

The winner of Sunday’s election is to be inaugurated at the helm of the world’s eighth-largest economy Jan 1, with a majority in both houses of Congress.