I will continue Lula's work, says Dilma Rousseff
Brazilians on Monday celebrated the election of their first-ever woman President, Dilma Rousseff, who pledged to extend policies implemented by popular outgoing leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, her mentor.
Mr. Lula's tireless backing of Ms. Rousseff delivered her 56 per cent of the ballots in a Sunday runoff against opposition challenger Jose Serra, the former Governor of Sao Paulo state who scored 44 per cent.
While Mr. Lula (65) is required to hand over power in two months' time, after completing the two consecutive terms allowed, Ms. Rousseff reassured many supporters of their ruling Workers Party that his influence would still be felt in her administration.
“I will knock on his door often, and I know it will always be open,” she said in her victory speech late Sunday in Brasilia.
“The task of succeeding him is difficult and challenging. But I know I will honour this legacy and extend his work,” she said with tears in her eyes and her voice catching.
Ms. Rousseff (62), an economist who served as Mr. Lula's Cabinet chief before he handpicked her as his successor, swore she would make eradication of poverty her priority in government as she sought to “honour the trust” voters had shown her.
She also lambasted the world's leading economies for devaluing their monies in a “currency war” that was threatening the exports of Brazil and other countries, but promised she would not put up more protectionist barriers around Latin America's biggest country.
Her biggest challenge will be preparing the country to host the 2014 football World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, both awarded under Mr. Lula's deft lobbying. She does not have the same solid support within the Workers Party that Lula had, presaging possible legislative troubles ahead.
Mr. Lula himself has not said what he plans to do.
He is retiring with a popularity rating above 80 per cent and a high global profile.
“There is no possibility of an ex-President participating in a government,” said Mr. Lula on Sunday when he voted on Sao Paulo's outskirts, where he started out as a factory metalworker and union leader.