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Brazil's Leftist Candidate Not Taking Victory for Granted


In Brazil, expectations are high that former laborer and union leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, known widely as "Lula," could win Sunday in the first round of presidential elections. However, the leftist candidate is not taking a victory for granted.

Voting has been orderly and peaceful so far in Brazil. Police, backed by thousands of soldiers, are guarding polling stations and keeping an eye out for trouble in many parts of the country. There has been an unusually strong show of force in Rio de Janeiro, where threats from a drug gang caused many businesses to close last week. Criminals have also threatened to disrupt voting in some of Rio's slum neighborhoods.

The front-running candidate, Lula, voted in the morning in his hometown of Sao Bernardo do Campo, near Sao Paulo. He is expected to come to his campaign headquarters here in Sao Paulo later in the day.

Although public opinion polls show that he could win in the first round with more than 50 percent of the vote total, Carolina Camara, a spokesperson with the Lula campaign says he is prepared to go to a second round if necessary. "The plan is to do everything as we are doing it until now. It is the same thing. We are not sure that we are going to win today, you know? We do not know when, but we will work for that to win," she said.

Carolina Camara says Lula's campaign is already anticipating the possibility of a second round on October 27 and would seek voters who had been supporting one of the other major candidates in the race.

The candidate in second place in the polls, government-backed candidate Jose Serra, is far behind, with just above 20 percent in recent polls. But analysts say he could gain a significant amount of support from people who have been backing one of the other candidates.

Many business leaders have supported Serra because of concerns about Lula's leftist policies and his lack of experience in government. The former laborer and union leader has toned down his rhetoric in this, his fourth attempt to become president. He has promised that there will be no major economic policy changes and he has said he will maintain good relations with the United States.

Brazil's last leftist president was Joao Goulart, who was deposed in a military coup in 1964. The military maintained control of the government until 1985. Among the people jailed for opposing military rule was Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the man who now could become the country's new president.

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