RIO DE JANEIRO: Brazil’s leftist President Dilma Rousseff steeled herself Monday for a hard-fought race against center-right challenger Aecio Neves, who is seeking to unite frustrated voters to beat her in a run-off.
After a dramatic campaign, the leftist incumbent won Sunday’s first-round poll with 42 percent of the vote to 34 percent for business favorite Neves — who nonetheless enters the second round with strong momentum after staging an improbable comeback against popular environmentalist Marina Silva.
As the countdown to the October 26 run-off began, Rousseff and Neves wasted no time trading jabs over their competing visions on how to reboot the world’s seventh-largest economy, which is mired in recession, and address the frustrations of voters angry over corruption and poor public services.
After Rousseff said Sunday that Neves, the scion of an influential political family, represented the “ghosts of the past,” the former governor hit back in a press conference Monday.
“I was surprised to hear President Dilma comment that people had to be careful with the ghosts of the past. The truth is they are worried about the monsters of the present, such as high inflation, recession, corruption,” he said.
He said he would appoint former central bank chief Arminio Fraga as finance minister to bolster investor confidence.
Markets reacted favorably, with Sao Paulo’s benchmark stock index closing up 4.72 percent.