Factbox: Brazil’s presidential candidates

(BestGrowthStock) – Brazil holds a runoff vote on Sunday to choose a successor to President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is barred by law from seeking a third consecutive term.

Dilma Rousseff of the ruling Workers’ Party fell just short of the majority of votes needed to win outright in the first round on October 3. Jose Serra of the centrist opposition PSDB party made gains in opinion polls following the first round, but Rousseff has regained a comfortable lead.

Here are short profiles on both of the candidates.


* Lula chose the relatively unknown civil servant Rousseff as presidential candidate for the party he founded three decades ago, citing her managerial experience and technical capacity.

* Rousseff, 62, proposes a mix of market-friendly policies with a strong role for the state in economic development.

* As chief of staff and energy minister under Lula, Rousseff was in charge of managing many of Brazil’s infrastructure projects and prepared the legislative framework to develop vast new oil reserves.

* She chaired the board of directors of state-owned oil company Petrobras.

* A former leftist militant, Rousseff was dubbed the iron lady for her curt and demanding management style. In public, the technocrat lacks Lula’s folksy charm and at times struggles to connect with her audience.

* This is the first time she is running for elected office, although she has held several other executive jobs, such as secretary of energy in the southern state, Rio Grande do Sul.

* The daughter of a well-to-do Bulgarian immigrant, Rousseff was born into a middle-class family and studied economics at the University of Minas Gerais.

* She got her first taste of politics during the 1964 military coup, when university campuses were rife with student protest movements.

* Rousseff joined a radical leftist resistance group but never engaged in armed conflict. She was imprisoned for three years and tortured by her military captors.

* She was treated for lymphoma cancer early last year but has been given a clean bill of health.


* The 68-year-old Serra is one of the most experienced politicians in Brazil. He held numerous elected posts, including as Sao Paulo mayor and Sao Paulo state governor.

* Serra is running for a six-party, center-right coalition, but is trailing Rousseff by about 10 percentage points in opinion polls.

* He studied engineering and holds a Ph.D. in economics from Cornell University.

* Serra became widely known and popular as health minister in the administration of President Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1995-2002) when he took on big pharmaceutical firms, threatening to break their patents and forcing them into price cuts. He was previously planning minister under Cardoso.

* Serra first ran for president in 2002, losing to Lula in a runoff.

* He established a reputation as an efficient manager but is not an especially charismatic or rousing orator. He struggles to connect with voters and can appear arrogant.

* While the PSDB is seen as more open to markets and the private sector, Serra favors a strong government and has a leftist background that would not be out of place in Rousseff’s Workers’ Party. He is linked to a school of thought that advocates economic planning, a strong state, capital controls and import substitution. As planning minister, he clashed with the pro-market wing in the Cardoso government.

* Serra’s father was an Italian immigrant who sold fruit in Sao Paulo to support his family and pay for Serra’s education. He got his first taste of politics as a leader in the student movement in 1962 and 1963.

* Brazil’s military dictatorship forced Serra into exile in Chile and the United States from 1964 to 1978.

(Compiled by Raymond Colitt; Editing by Kieran Murray)

Factbox: Brazil’s presidential candidates