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Brazil Elects First Woman President

Brazilian presidential candidate for the

Brazilian presidential candidate for the ruling Workers Party (PT) Dilma Rousseff, flashes the V sign at a polling station in Porto Alegre, state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, on October 31, 2010.  JEFFERSON BERNARDES/AFP/Getty Images/AFP hide caption

toggle caption JEFFERSON BERNARDES/AFP/Getty Images/AFP

Dilma Rousseff, the Energy Minister and handpicked successor of outgoing president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, won at the polls yesterday. As a young woman, Roussef was a Marxist who protested against Brazil's military dictatorship. She was jailed and tortured. Now, a grandmother, and twice divorced, she takes the helm of one of the world's most vibrant economies. From the Guardian:

Speaking at a victory rally in the capital, Brasilia, Rousseff told jubilant supporters: "We cannot rest while Brazilians are going hungry, while families are living in the streets, while poor children are abandoned to their own fates and while crack and crack dens rule."

"The eradication of extreme poverty is a target that I assume and I humbly ask for the support of you all to help the country overcome this abyss that still separates us from being a developed nation," she added. "This ambitious goal will not be achieved by the government alone. It is a call for the nation."

While Lula campaigned tirelessly for her, she is expected to have a different focus than he, according to the New York Times.

But while Ms. Rousseff, 62, has pledged to cleave to the formula that endeared Mr. da Silva to so many, she is hardly a carbon copy and faces some monumental tasks that he has left unfinished: fixing the nation’s troubled educational record, improving dismal health and sanitation standards for millions, and turning Brazil into the kind of developed nation it envisions itself becoming.

“Dilma will not be Lula II,” said Roberto Mangabeira Unger, a former minister of strategic affairs under Mr. da Silva. “She is a different person; it’s a different moment, and it’s a different job.”

There are some who worry she may the turn the country more to the left, especially in Brazil's growing oil sector. She is not expected, though, to be as active on the world stage as Mr. da Silva, and focus more on domestic priorities.



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