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Brazil's da Silva to Seek Decisive Victory in Runoff Election - 2002-10-07

In Brazil, leftist presidential candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, known widely as simply "Lula," says he will reach out to Brazilians who voted for other opposition candidates in the first-round of voting Sunday, in order to have a definitive victory in the runoff election October 27.

On the day after he placed first in the first-round presidential election, the burly, bearded Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was all smiles. With almost all votes now counted, the candidate, known to all as "Lula," was far ahead of his closest rival, government-backed Jose Serra. Lula, who heads the Worker's Party, won a little more than 46 percent of the vote to Serra's showing of about 23 percent.

Two other candidates, Anthony Garotinho of the Brazilian Socialist Party, and Ciro Gomes of the People's Socialist Party, were eliminated from the second round.

Lula said he has been in contact with officials from those two campaigns in hopes of gaining their support.

He said it is not enough to speak with the opposition candidates, but that he is also talking to officials from the two parties, in hopes of gaining their support. He said he also wants to have a discussion with people who voted for one of the other two opposition candidates in order to convince them to vote for him in the second round.

In response to questions about nervous reaction from financial markets to a possible Lula victory, the former labor leader said markets are always nervous. He noted that markets dipped when Tony Blair won his first election as prime minister in Great Britain. Asked about whom he may name to his economic team, the Workers' Party candidate said he would not announce any appointments until after the October 27 election. He said he plans to spend the next 20 days seeking votes, not planning his government.

Although he won twice as many votes as Jose Serra, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is not taking a second-round victory for granted. Some analysts think Mr. Serra, an economist and former health minister who is favored by the business community, could make a strong comeback in the weeks ahead.

Public opinion polls released last week had shown the possibility of a first-round win by Lula, but campaign officials say their strategy had always included a second-round of voting. Some analysts say, however, that Lula's failure to win the first round could discourage some voters, and diminish the momentum he had built going into Sunday's election. They say much will now depend on how the two finalists shape their campaigns, as they head into the final phase of this year's presidential contest.