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Rousseff launches candidacy for reelection

Brazil’s former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, right, raises the arm of current President Dilma Rousseff during a meeting held by the ruling Workers’ Party, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Friday.
Ends speculation of a return for Lula; amid growing clashes between police and favela residents

SAO PAULO — Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was officially presented as candidate for the Workers’ Party for the October 5 presidential elections in a political party conference on Friday, in which she again received support by former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

This official nomination ends weeks of speculation that Lula would take her place as candidate, although he repeatedly had declared in public that he would not run. The so-called “Come back, Lula” movement

Rousseff said that the launch of her candidacy is “proof” of the mutual trust Lula and her have. “Our commitment with Brazilians is what united,” she added.

In his speech, Lula told party members and leaders to stop “wasting time” by demanding him to come back as president and asked them to support Rousseff. “We have to stop imagining that there is another candidate because by doing this we give the opposition an advantage,” he stressed.

In addition, the 68-year-old former metalworker said that the campaign “will not be easy” and asked militants to stay “united”. “I will be present wherever the party needs me to be,” he concluded.

For his part, Workers’ Party (PT) head Rui Falcão said at the same event in Sao Paulo that it is the party’s most “important task” to get Rousseff elected for a new term.

Falcão also said that during Rousseff’s government she consolidated all of Lula’s programmes which were launched between 2003-2010 and that despite the international crisis and a negative media campaign, there were significant advances made in the social and industrial sectors

“The Brazilian population,” he continued, “wants change that comes with hope and security. Brazil should pull back and go back to the past.”

During his speech he also criticized Eduardo Campos, of the Brazilian Socialist Party, who used to be an ally of the PT, and now will run against Rousseff in the presidential elections. “He never had his own ideas,” he said.

‘Grand commander’

According to the PT Lula will not “formally” be the coordinator but the “grand commander” of the election campaign, which will seek to reelect Rousseff in October’s elections.

“Lula is the grand commander of the party, of the campaign. He trascends all organizational functions we create in the campaign,” the PT president Rui Falcão said in a press conference after his party’s 14th National Conference.

Falcão said that the PT will follow Lula’s political orientation with an eye on the elections. “If he wants to go to the committee and participate on a daily basis, there is no problem with this. He is the general commander,” he told local reporters.

Lula governed Brazil for two consecutive terms, between 2003 and 2011, and although he isn’t the Workers’ Party president, he is considered the leader of the party, which he helped found in 1980.

He remains Brazil’s most popular politician by far. His legendary schmoozing ability and pragmatic policies are a source of nostalgia among many investors and others frustrated with Rousseff’s more hermetic personal style and heavy hand in the economy, which has sputtered on her watch.

Race tightens

Meanwhile, a new poll released yesterday revealed a tighter race than a separate poll released earlier this week, which showed Rousseff leading Aécio Neves by 15 percentage points.

Rousseff had 35 percent of votes, compared to 24 percent for Senator Neves and 11 percent for former governor Campos, according to the survey by Sensus polling firm. Undecided voters and those who said they would spoil their ballots accounted for the remaining responses.

In addition, 49 percent of respondents said they disapproved of Rousseff’s performance, compared to 40 percent who approved.

Also, 66 percent of voters said their purchasing power had declined compared to a year ago, reflecting fallout from rising inflation and an economy that has averaged just two percent growth since Rousseff took office in 2011.

Most political analysts still expect Rousseff to win the October 5 vote, thanks to continued strong support from Brazil’s poor, who have benefited from social welfare programmes. The Sensus poll was conducted nationwide between April 22 and 25, with 2,000 respondents and a margin of error of 2.2 percentage points.

Herald with Reuters, Télam

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