Brazil's chief re-elected in landslide win

October 30, 2006|By Los Angeles Times

SAO PAULO, Brazil -- A chastened President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, forced into a runoff after a disappointing performance in the general election, won a landslide victory yesterday to a second term as leader of Latin America's largest nation.

With 99 percent of the votes counted, official tallies showed the leftist incumbent with 61 percent of the vote, compared with 39 percent for his challenger, former Sao Paulo Gov. Geraldo Alckmin of the centrist Brazilian Social Democracy Party.

As the breadth of victory became clear and the chief of the electoral court declared the lead insurmountable, Alckmin telephoned the president yesterday evening to offer congratulations.

Polls had shown the president, known as Lula, leading by more than 20 percentage points going into yesterday's vote after his failure to garner the simple majority needed to win the Oct. 1 general election. His unremitting portrayal of Alckmin as a corporate lackey intent on giving away the government to private investors put the challenger on the defensive, experts said.

Alckmin's candidacy had always been a long-shot affair, but a maelstrom of corruption scandals swirling around Lula and his party sapped support for the president and forced the runoff vote.

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