Brazil rivals rally in swing state on election eve

* Rousseff beams confidence on eve of election

* Serra bets on swing voters in Minas Gerais for upset

* Polls show chances for Serra comeback fading

By Aline de Almeida

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil, Oct 30 (BestGrowthStock) – Brazil’s
presidential candidates rallied in the key swing state of Minas
Gerais on Saturday in a last-ditch attempt to win over
undecided voters before Sunday’s runoff election.

With a double-digit lead in opinion polls over the
opposition candidate Jose Serra, the ruling party’s Dilma
Rousseff displayed an air of confidence she had not shown since
she fell short of victory in the Oct. 3 first-round vote.

“I will govern for all Brazilians. There will be no
discrimination of parties. I won’t govern only for my
coalition,” a beaming Rousseff told reporters in the state
capital Belo Horizonte in what sounded like an early victory

Rousseff, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s former
chief of staff, appeared to have cleared the last obstacle to
victory as she cruised through an uneventful TV debate on
Brazil’s most-watched TV channel late on Friday.

Her aides were brimming with optimism on Saturday.

“We should win with a minimum advantage of 10 percentage
points and a maximum of 15 points,” said Andre Vargas,
communications secretary of Rousseff’s Workers’ Party, or PT.


Full coverage of election [ID:nBRAZIL]

Election Top News page

Graphic on opinion polls

Special report on Rousseff

Political risks in Brazil [ID:nRISKBR]


Across town from Rousseff, Serra spearheaded his own
motorcade, waving to supporters at the end of a four-month
campaign in which his platform of clean and lean government
failed to catch on with most Brazilians, who are happy with the
boom years under Lula.

Both candidates wrapped up their campaigns in Minas Gerais,
which in political circles is often referred to as “Brazil’s
Ohio,” because it has been an accurate predictor of
presidential elections.

Since democracy returned in 1985 after two decades of
military rule, every president has carried the state, which has
Brazil’s second-largest electorate.


Members of Serra’s PSDB party have touted Minas Gerais as
the biggest pool of potential swing voters that could help him
stage an upset on Sunday.

“The vote is not over, there’s a part of the electorate
that is not convinced of its vote,” said Aecio Neves, the
state’s outgoing governor and a senator-elect for the PSDB.

But the number of undecided voters nationwide dropped to
only 4 percent in an opinion poll on Friday from twice that
earlier in the week.

Even if all undecided voters in Minas Gerais cast ballots
for Serra, Rousseff would still win on Sunday, said Marcos
Coimbra, head of the Belo Horizonte-based polling firm Vox

The latest opinion polls show Rousseff ahead of Serra by
11-15 percentage points, a strong rebound from several weeks
ago when her campaign had wobbled on corruption allegations and
doubts over her religious beliefs.

Her recovery came as she steered the discussion back to the
eight years of strong economic growth under Lula, whose
endorsement transformed her from a largely unknown bureaucrat
into a presidential favorite.

“It was under President Lula that my children got the
opportunity to study, which I never had,” said Gumercinda
Queiroga, 84, a supporter who greeted Rousseff before she
embarked on a motorcade on the outskirts of Belo Horizonte on

“Today, I have two apartments and live with dignity,” said
Queiroga, who promised to get up at dawn to vote for Rousseff.
(Writing by Raymond Colitt; editing by Todd Benson and
Mohammad Zargham)

Brazil rivals rally in swing state on election eve