RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) – After a dramatic, hard-fought race, Brazilians elect their next president Sunday, weighing 12 years of social progress against a yearning for economic revival, and for change. Leftist incumbent Dilma Rousseff is the narrow favorite heading into the vote, with a four- to six-point advantage over center-right business favorite Aecio Neves in the race to lead the world’s seventh-largest economy, Saturday’s final surveys showed.
Datafolha gave Rousseff a 52-48 percent lead, just on the two-percentage-point margin for error, while indicating it saw a “probability” of her winning the contest.
An Ibope Institute poll for its part showed Rousseff ahead by 53-47 percent, breaking the technical tie. Winning back front-runner status has been a battle for Brazil’s first woman president – a former guerrilla once jailed and tortured for fighting the country’s 1964-1985 military regime.
The vote is widely seen as a referendum on 12 years of government by her Workers’ Party (PT) – eight under working-class hero Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and four under Rousseff, his seemingly less-charmed successor.
The party endeared itself to the masses with landmark social programmes that have lifted millions from poverty, increased wages and brought unemployment to a record-low 4.9 percent.