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Brazilian President Rousseff is Re-elected

Brazil’s incumbent President Dilma Rousseff has won a second term, defeating her opposition rival Aecio Neves with a narrow margin in an election that largely split the country between the poor north and wealthier south.

Rousseff, the first woman president of the world’s seventh-largest economy, took 51.6 percent of the vote to 48.4 percent for business favourite Neves in a run-off election.

The 66-year-old, a former leftist guerrilla who was jailed and tortured for fighting the 1964-1985 dictatorship, pledged to reconcile Brazil, reboot the economy and fight corruption after the victory of her Workers’ Party.

In 2010, Rousseff won by 12 percent and 12 million votes. In this election, she won by 3 percent and 3.5 million votes, the narrowest presidential victory in Brazil’s history. She was battered and bruised but managed to prevail sticking to her message focus on the poor and lower middle class.

In an election decided by 3.5 million votes, 37 million Brazilians either didn’t vote or voted for nobody.

The choice between Rousseff and Neves split Brazilians into two camps, those who thought only the president would continue to protect the poor and advance social inclusion versus those who were certain that only the contender’s market-friendly economic policies could see Brazil return to solid growth.

Rousseff’s victory extends the rule of the Workers’ Party, which has held the presidency since 2003. During that time, they’ve enacted expansive social programs that have helped pull millions of Brazilians out of poverty and into the middle class

About Brazilian political system:

Brazil is officially a democratic federative republic. The current constitution was introduced in 1988. The President or head of state is elected for a four-year term, with the possibility of one additional sequential term.

The legislature or national congress (Congresso National) of Brazil consists of two chambers:

  1. Chamber of Deputies (Câmara dos Deputados), there are 513 deputies, each elected for a four-year term using a proportional representation system
  2. Federal Senate (Senado Federal), there are 81 members, each selected for an eight-year term

Brazil has a multi-party system, and due to the high number of political parties, coalition governments are the norm.

Voting

Voting is compulsory in Brazil. Brazilian citizens living outside of Brazil are also required to vote and can do so at their nearest Embassy. Elections will always held on Sundays.

Who is eligible to vote?

  • Non-Brazilians (including those with permanent residency) cannot vote in national elections in Brazil
  • Brazilian citizens between the ages of eighteen and seventy are obliged to vote
  • Citizens aged sixteen to eighteen and over seventy can choose whether they vote or not
  • Elections for most executive offices, including the President, Governors, and Mayors of cities with at least 200,000 voters, have a majoritarian format with a runoff between the two top finishers if nobody obtains 50% of the vote in the first round.
  • Elections for mayors of cities with below 200,000 voters are based on a single round plurality method, and senate seats are also filled in plurality (first past the post) elections.

Citizens that do not vote, though they are obliged to do so, may have difficulties when obtaining a passport, bank account or credit facilities.

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