BRASILIA Aug 18 Brazil will hold a
presidential election in October 2010 to choose the successor
to President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is barred by law
from seeking a third consecutive term. Parties will formally
nominate their candidates late this year. Here are some
frequently asked questions about the race
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Q: What is the procedure for the election?
A: A candidate must have more than 50 percent of the vote
to win. A second-round run-off is held between the top two
candidates if no one has an absolute majority after the first
Q: Can Dilma Rousseff, Lula's chief of staff and a
center-left candidate, catch Sao Paulo state governor Jose
Serra, who leads her by about 20 percentage points in current
A: It is likely to become a much closer race. Rousseff is
not as known as Serra and will have to increase her media
exposure considerably. But she will be able to point to
Brazil's relatively strong economic growth during the Lula
administration and will have Lula, who has an approval rating
of more than 70 percent, campaigning actively on her behalf.
Her treatment for lymphoma cancer earlier this year has had
little impact on her polling performance. Some say it could
generate a sympathy vote.
Q: Will Rousseff's chances be damaged by the possible entry
of leftist candidates, such as former environment minister
Marina Silva and the Brazilian Socialist Party's Ciro Gomes?
A: Rousseff could lose votes on the left and among women to
Silva. Gomes also has significant support, running closely
behind Rousseff in current opinion polls. But most analysts
believe neither of the leftist challengers would be able to
displace Rousseff from second place in the election.
Both Gomes and Silva would likely throw their support
behind Rousseff in the event of a run-off against Serra.
Q: What are the chances that a candidate other than
Rousseff or Serra will win?
A: Slim. The centrist Serra has a strong lead in opinion
polls, national name recognition from decades in public office
and a power base in Sao Paulo, Brazil's financial capital and
largest city. Rousseff has the backing of Lula and his ruling
Q: What are the chances that Lula will decide at the last
minute to run for the presidency again?
A: It's very unlikely. To run for a third consecutive term,
he would have to get Congress to approve a constitutional
amendment one year before the election, or by the end of
September, a nearly impossible feat.
Q: What is the risk of an economic populist winning in
A: None of the leading candidates proposes a radical break
from current economic policies. Brazil's strong growth and
economic stability in recent years has given more credibility
to market-friendly economic policies, such as a free-floating
currency and inflation targets. The 2002 election victory of
Lula, once a fiery, leftist union leader, has moderated much of
(Reporting by Raymond Colitt; editing by Stuart Grudgings
and Paul Simao)