Monday, November 29, 1999

Rousseff ahead in Brazil presidential race - poll

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Brazilian ruling party presidential candidate Dilma Rousseff has pulled ahead of her main challenger for the first time in the campaign for the Oct. 3 election, according to a poll released on Saturday.Rousseff, who vows to continue the Workers' Party's mostly investor-friendly economic policies, was favored by 38 percent of voters to 35 percent for Jose Serra, the former governor of Sao Paulo state, the Vox Populi poll showed.A poll in April by the firm showed Serra leading Rousseff by a 34-31 margin.Most analysts viewed Rousseff as the favorite to win the election due to a strong economy and the popularity of outgoing Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a recent Reuters poll showed.Lula is barred by Brazil's constitution from seeking a third consecutive term in office.The Vox Populi poll said Rousseff, who is Lula's former chief of staff, had climbed in the polls after increased national exposure -- she has been traveling frequently with Lula.Brazil's economy, one of the fastest growing in the developing world in recent years, also is rebounding from the impact of the global recession, a trend that could help Rousseff, 62, become Brazil's first female president.Marina Silva, a former environment minister and current Green Party presidential candidate, was at 8 percent support in the poll, up one percentage point from April. She is due to officially launch her candidacy on Sunday.Serra, 68, is highlighting his executive experience in his campaign. In addition to once ruling Sao Paulo state, the industrial heart of Brazil, he is the former mayor of Sao Paulo as well as a former health minister and planning minister under Lula's predecessor, Fernando Henrique Cardoso.Serra also has said he would not break with the fundamentals of Lula's economic policies. Both Serra and Rousseff are seen as favoring a stronger government role in the economy.The Vox Populi survey polled 2,000 people between May 8 and 13 and has a margin of error of 2.2 percentage points.(Editing by Paul Simao)

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