By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Incumbent President Dilma Rousseff won re-election on Sunday by a straight margin over opposition candidate Aecio Neves. With 99.7 percent of votes counted Rousseff obtained 51.6 percent of the valid votes while Neves received 48.4 percent. According to the TSE (Brazil’s Electoral Court) twenty percent of voters did not show up at the polling stations, voted blank or annulled their votes.
In her victory speech Rousseff told a cheering crowd that her first priorities were to bring society together ‘in favor of the country’s future’ and to open up a dialogue with all Brazilians. “I want to be a much better president than I have been,” she told the crowd of supporters in Brasilia.
The newly re-elected president thanked PT party officials and especially former Brazilian President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, whom she called ‘our number one militant’, for his help. She promised to continue to help the less fortunate, expand social programs, combat corruption and promote economic growth.
In Belo Horizonte, minutes after TSE reports showed Rousseff had won, defeated PSDB candidate Aecio Neves told his supporters he had fought a ‘dignified and good fight’ and wished the President success in her next term.
This year’s presidential election was the closest since Brazil’s re-democratization in 1985. The campaign was laced suspense and intrigue, sometimes looking like one of Brazil’s famous soap operas.
The tragic airplane accident which led to the death of PSB candidate Eduardo Campos catapulted his running mate, Marina Silva, into the headlines and at one point to the front of the race. Weeks later Silva would lose her position to PSDB’s Aecio Neves in a first round of elections which surprised analysts and the financial market alike.
The run-off between Rousseff and Neves also had its ups and downs, with both sides calling opponent’s actions as ‘electoral terrorism’. In the past few weeks accusations of money-laundering at state-controlled oil giant Petrobras, bribery and mismanagement of public funds from both parties sidelined major issues, such as education, economy and health, leaving voters uncertain as to which candidate would better address the country’s major problems.