FaithWorld

Brazil’s Rousseff survives abortion row, looks set to win presidency

rousseff (Photo: Dilma Rousseff looks up before a television debate in Sao Paulo October 25, 2010/Nacho Doce)

Dilma Rousseff, front-runner in Brazil’s presidential race, appears to have successfully shifted the focus of the campaign away from corruption and her controversial views on abortion and back to the shining economic legacy of her popular former boss, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Rousseff, a 62-year-old career civil servant and former leftist militant, fell short of the majority of votes needed to win the election outright in the October 3 first round as last-minute doubts of many evangelical Christian and Catholic voters about her support for abortion rights probably cost the Workers’ Party candidate an outright victory. Opposition challenger Jose Serra then closed her poll lead to as little as four points.

But her shift in focus appears to have re-energized her base in Brazil’s emerging lower-middle class, which has nearly doubled in size under Lula’s mix of market-friendly policies and social welfare programs, and now accounts for about half the population. Rousseff has promised to stick to Lula’s policies.

Rousseff’s support slipped precipitously in the 10 days before the first round but she has taken steps to avoid a similar fate this time. Her written promise not to change Brazil’s abortion laws, which forbid the practice in most cases, appears to have eased concerns among religious voters who abandoned her in the first round but are now coming back, a Datafolha poll showed.

Read the full analysis by Brian Winter here.

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Brazil’s ugly abortion reality lost in election noise

brazil abortionIt was a little-noticed headline amid the daily crime, violence and accidents in Rio de Janeiro’s rough outskirts — Adriana de Souza Queiroz, 26, dead after a clandestine abortion went wrong. Queiroz, who scraped a living handing out pamphlets and was 3 or 4 months pregnant, last month became one of the some 300 Brazilian women who die each year after back street abortions.

The issue of abortion in the world’s most populous Roman Catholic country has been thrust into the spotlight by a presidential election in which front-running candidate Dilma Rousseff has been punished by religious voters for her past support for decriminalizing the procedure. (Photo:  An anti-abortion march in Brasilia September 10, 2008/Jamil Bittar)

Abortion rights groups have long argued the law does little to prevent abortions in Brazil and mostly hurts poor women who can’t afford safer, expensive underground clinics.

Brazil “values voters” go YouTube against prez hopeful Rousseff

pastor022The YouTube video that helped push Brazil’s presidential election to a second round begins with Paschoal Piragine solemnly telling his flock: “In 30 years as a pastor, I’ve never done this before.” He then warns them that the ruling Workers’ Party wants not only to legalize abortion, but would make divorce easier, permit the spread of pornography, and continue to allow tribes in the Amazon to bury alive “thousands of children.”

The video, which includes disturbing images and has received nearly 3 million views, concludes with the Baptist preacher telling his followers not to vote for the Workers’ Party in upcoming elections. “Otherwise, God will judge our land,” Piragine says.

The last-minute doubts of many evangelical Christian and Catholic voters probably cost Workers’ Party presidential candidate Dilma Rousseff an outright first-round victory in last Sunday’s election, polls suggest. The shift is unlikely to keep Rousseff from winning an October 31 runoff vote against her nearest contender, opposition leader Jose Serra.

Rousseff courts Brazil’s faith voters with “for life” comments

dilma (Photo: Brazilian presidential candidate Dilma Rousseff in Brasilia, October 5, 2010/Ueslei Marcelino)

Brazil’s ruling party candidate Dilma Rousseff is playing up her Roman Catholic background in efforts to win back religious voters, whose doubts about her faith and position on abortion rights may have cost her an outright victory in Sunday’s presidential election.

In a surprise shift, many religious voters who oppose abortion, especially evangelical Christians, abandoned Rousseff’s  center-left Workers’ Party to vote for the Green Party’s Marina Silva, who captured an unexpectedly large 19 percent of the vote.

“Personally, I’m from a Catholic family. I am and always was in favor of life,” Rousseff told reporters on Tuesday outside of her campaign headquarters in Brasilia. “I have no problem addressing the religious issue. My project addresses all the religions.”