Position: President of Brazil
Incumbent: Dilma Rousseff
Date of Birth: Dec. 14, 1947
Term: Sworn in on Jan. 1, 2011 for a four-year term. Eligible to be re-elected once.
- A left-wing activist-turned-technocrat, Rousseff is the first female president of Latin America’s largest economy. She has continued the mostly market-friendly economic policies of her predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, and favors a strong role for the state in key sectors of the economy.
- Rousseff made her political breakthrough when, as energy minister, she impressed Lula with her managerial skills and technical capacity. She also chaired the board of directors of state-owned oil company Petrobras
- In the influential post of chief of staff for Lula, Rousseff was dubbed the iron lady for her curt and demanding management style. She was put in charge of managing many of Brazil’s infrastructure projects and prepared the legislative framework to develop vast new oil reserves.
- She won the 2010 run-off presidential election on the back of a booming economy and support from her mentor, the hugely popular Lula.
- The daughter of a well-to-do Bulgarian immigrant, Rousseff was born into a middle-class family and did post-graduate studies in economics.
- After a 1964 coup gave rise to a military dictatorship, Rousseff joined a radical leftist resistance group. She says she never engaged in armed conflict, but she was captured, tortured for 22 days and imprisoned for three years on charges of subversion.
- Rousseff has pursued a mix of market-friendly policies with a strong role for the state in economic development, particularly in the energy sector where Brazil plans to tap massive new offshore oil fields in the coming decade.
- She is perceived as taking a tougher line on corruption within government than her predecessors, a stance that polls suggest has found favor with a surging middle class. In her first year in office she removed six of her cabinet ministers following allegations of graft.
- Rousseff’s no-nonsense style of governing contrasts sharply with the jovial, folksy charm of Lula and she appears less frequently in public than he did. She has won admiration in Brasilia as a tough and focused leader, though some criticize her for excessively micro-managing government policies.
- Stagnant economic growth has led Rousseff to listen more carefully to Brazil’s business leaders as she strives to recover investor confidence after some of her policies were perceived as too interventionist, notably in the electricity sector.
- Rousseff was treated for lymphoma cancer in 2009 but has been given a clean bill of health by her doctors.