Brazil elects Dilma

According to Folha de São Paulo, Dilma Rousseff has been elected president of Brazil by a 56%-44% margin over José Serra, former Governor of the state of São Paulo. Dilma (Brazilians seem to refer to her always by her first name) was chief of staff to outgoing President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, whose job approval ratings have been sky high, and he campaigned with her frequently after the first round of voting October 3, in which Dilma led Serra 47%-33%. Interestingly, the third place finisher, Marina Silva, an indigenous Brazilian who started her career opposing deforestation of the Amazon and who won 19% of the vote, got support from an unusual combination of affluent high-education voters (she carried Distrito Federal, the most upscale of Brazil’s states) and Protestant evangelicals who oppose abortion.

My first look at  the returns by state, with 95% of the votes counted, suggests that Dilma got most of Marina’s upscale votes (she carried Distrito Federal) but many of the evangelicals went for Serra. Serra carried the four prosperous southern states–São Paulo, Paraná, Santa Catarina and (in a surprise: it’s Dilma’s home state) Rio Grande do Sul. But he was overwhelmed as Dilma got 70% or more in the less affluent states of Bahia, Pernambuco, Ceará and Manranhão and she got a whopping 80% in Amazonas.

Brazil has a national voting system and counts its votes much more rapidly and with much less controversy than we in the United States do. Perhaps we have some lessons to learn.

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