RIO DE JANEIRO – Ruling party candidate Dilma Rousseff and opposition member Jose Serra will face off in a runoff election for Brazil’s presidency on Oct. 31 after the leading candidates failed to win a majority of the vote in balloting over the weekend.
Rousseff, of the governing Workers’ Party, or PT, won 46.9 percent of the vote in Sunday’s election, while Serra, the standard bearer of the Brazilian Social Democratic Party, or PSDB, garnered 32.61 percent of the vote, with 99.99 percent of the ballots counted, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal said.
Green Party candidate Sen. Marina Silva came in third with 19.33 percent of the vote.
The PT candidate said she would approach the runoff “with much fighting spirit and energy.”
“I consider this stage a very special moment in my life,” Rousseff said in brief statements to reporters.
Rousseff’s performance in the election was a disappointment, as the polls ahead of the voting showed her drawing between 50 percent and 51 percent of the vote, indicating that she might win the presidency outright in the first round.
Rousseff, who enjoyed popular President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s strong backing, was hurt in the home stretch of the campaign by corruption allegations and reports about her support of abortion rights.
Serra, for his part, celebrated the opportunity to take on the PT candidate in the runoff election.
“My first words are of deep thanks to the Brazilian people for the strength they gave me in this election. I am very happy, but I am not surprised because I knew the strength the people were going to give us today,” Serra said in an address late Sunday in Sao Paulo.
“It wasn’t the polls, it was the Brazilian people who got me here,” Serra said.
Serra is going into a presidential runoff for the second time, having lost in 2002 to Lula.
In other races, former President Fernando Collor de Mello lost his bid for the governorship of Alagoas state.
Election officials in Alagoas wanted to exclude Collor de Mello from Sunday’s election, accusing him of fraud.
The charges arose from a poll published Aug. 24 in Gazeta de Alagoas newspaper, which is partly owned by the candidate.
That survey was conducted by the Gaze polling firm, a corporate sibling of Gazeta, and showed Collor with a lead of 38 percent to 23 percent over Democratic Labor Party, or PDT, candidate Ricardo Lessa.
But a poll carried out at the same time by the respected Ibope institute indicated Lessa had a slight advantage over Collor, 29 percent to 28 percent.
Collor was Brazil’s president from 1990 to 1992, when he stepped down just hours before Congress was set to take up his impeachment for alleged corruption.
Having won a Senate seat in 2007, Collor was trying to reclaim the Alagoas governorship, a post he held in the late 1980s before running for president.
The governorship of the northeastern state will be decided on Oct. 31, when Gov. Teotonio Vilela, of the PSDB, and Lessa face off.
Two former soccer stars, meanwhile, won their bids for office.
Romario and Bebeto, who were teammates on Brazil’s 1994 World Cup championship team, won legislative seats.
Romario, a member of the Brazilian Socialist Party, or PSB, won 146,859 votes, or 1.84 percent of the total cast in Rio de Janeiro state, ensuring that he will have a seat in the lower house of Congress, election officials said.
Bebeto, a member of the PDT, won a seat in the 70-member Rio de Janeiro state legislature. EFE