BRASILIA – On the eve of the election that this Sunday will determine who will be the next president of Brazil, ruling party candidate Dilma Rousseff and opposition candidate Jose Serra wrapped up their campaigns Saturday, each bursting with confidence and already declaring victory.
Both candidates chose for their last direct contact with voters the city of Belo Horizonte, capital of Minas Gerais state, home to 14.5 million eligible voters.
They not only coincided in going to Belo Horizonte but also in the way they ended their campaigns – at the head of different car caravans that, without crossing paths, drove through the city bringing out thousands of supporters.
“I promise to govern for everyone” and “without any hard feelings,” said Rousseff, the candidate for the ruling Workers Party, or PT, in reference to the bitterness sometimes seen in debates with the standard bearer of the center-right Brazilian Social Democracy Party, or PSDB.
Rousseff again thanked the head of state, Inacio Lula da Silva, her political mentor, for the support he gave her throughout the campaign, during which he took part almost daily in rallies for the candidate.
The PT hopeful was questioned by reporters about what role Lula might have in her eventual government, in which many analysts believe he will act as a kind of presidential “adviser.”
“Obviously” Lula will not have a position in the Cabinet, Rousseff said, adding that even so, “nothing will separate me” from the current president, whom she again described as “the best Brazil has had in its entire history.”
Serra, trailing Rousseff in all surveys by 10 to 12 percentage points, again insisted that “the real survey will be at the polls” and asked his supporters to keep campaigning until Sunday to get him “one more vote.”
The former mayor of Sao Paulo and erstwhile governor of Sao Paulo state repeated his criticism of Lula’s omnipresence in Rousseff’s campaign and recalled that the person “who governs Brazil will be the one who wins tomorrow and not the one who invented a candidate.”
During a rally for the PSDB candidate, a message was shown from Helio Bicudo, who three decades ago founded the PT with Lula, but left that party because of the continuous corruption scandals that besmirched it after coming to power almost eight years ago.
“I ask you to vote for Serra, because we have to save the democracy of this country,” Bicudo said in a message that was bannered on the giant screen at the event. Serra and his supporters then closed the rally singing the national anthem.
This Sunday, Serra will vote in Sao Paulo, where he will then await the election results, while Rousseff will cast her ballot in the southern city of Porto Alegre.
After voting, Rousseff will fly to Brasilia to follow election results with Lula at the Alvorada Palace, the official presidential residence, as she did during the first round of voting on Oct. 3.
In that first contest, the PT candidate came out on top with 46.9 percent of the vote, but did not get the majority required and was forced to dispute this Sunday’s runoff against Serra, who in the first round got 32.6 percent.
The authorities finished Saturday installing the close to 400,000 electronic voting machines that will be available to Brazil’s 135.8 million eligible voters, while the army has sent a total of 4,000 troops to the 149 cities that asked for help in beefing up security for the electoral process.
Also on Sunday, coinciding with the presidential election, will be the second round of gubernatorial elections in the states of Alagoas, Rondonia, Goias, Para, Paraiba, Piaui, Amapa, Roraima and the Brasilia Federal District, where last Oct. 3 none of the candidates got more than 50 percent of the vote.