Brazil’s incumbent President Dilma Rousseff has been re-elected for a second term after securing more than 51% of votes in the closest election race in many years.
An official count showed Dilma Rousseff’s rival, centrist candidate Aecio Neves, taking just over 48% of the vote.
In her victory speech, Dilma Rousseff said she wanted to be “a much better president than I have been until now”.
She faced protests last year against corruption, record spending on the football World Cup and poor services.
Dilma Rousseff, who has been in power since 2010, is popular with poor Brazilians thanks to her government’s welfare programs.
The vote split Latin America’s biggest country almost evenly in two, along lines of social class and geography.
Dilma Rousseff called on all Brazilians “to unite in favor of Brazil’s future” and said she would seek political reform.
“This president is open to dialogue. This is the top priority of my second mandate,” she told a cheering crowd in the capital, Brasilia.
Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff has been re-elected for a second term after securing more than 51 percent of votes in the closest election race in many years
She also thanked her supporters, especially her political mentor and predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
“I thank from the bottom of my heart our number one militant, President Lula.”
Dilma Rousseff’s re-election for a second term extends the rule of her Workers Party (PT), which came to power in 2002 with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Aecio Neves, of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB), admitted defeat in a speech to supporters in the southern city of Belo Horizonte.
He thanked the “more than 50 million Brazilians” who voted for him and said he had telephoned the re-elected president.
“I… wished her success in the administration of her next government, and I reaffirmed what I feel should be our greatest priority, to unite Brazil on the basis of an honorable project which dignifies all Brazilians,” he said at the rally.
Aecio Neves was the governor of the southern swing-state of Minas Gerais for eight years.
Both he and Dilma Rousseff had made economic growth and lifting Brazilians out of poverty central to their election campaigns.
Brazilians are voting in the second round of the presidential election in what correspondents say is the tightest vote the country has seen in decades.
Incumbent left-leaning President Dilma Rousseff of the Workers Party (PT) faces centrist Aecio Neves of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB) in the second run-off round.
Both candidates have pledged to kick-start Latin America’s largest economy and make it more competitive.
The latest opinion polls showed President Dilma Rousseff with a slight lead over the opposition candidate.
A survey by pollster Datafolha gave Dilma Rousseff 52% voter support against 48% for Aecio Neves.
A separate survey by polling firm Ibope gave the incumbent 53% against 47% for her challenger.
Both polls had a margin of error of plus or minus 2%.
Leftist President Dilma Rousseff faces centrist Aecio Neves in the second run-off round of Brazil’s presidential election
Poor Brazilians, particularly in the impoverished northeast, remain loyal to Dilma Rousseff thanks to her party’s trademark welfare programs, such as the Bolsa Familia grant scheme.
Dilma Rousseff obtained her largest support there in the first round of the presidential election on 5 October, with almost 60% of votes.
But wealthy Brazilians, who are against interventionist economic policies such as petrol price controls and high taxes, favor instead business-friendly Aecio Neves.
Aecio Neves is regarded in the financial markets as someone to put the economy back on track, after four years of low growth rates with the country now technically in recession.
More than 140 million Brazilians will vote on October 26, but correspondents say much will depend on who wins the middle-class vote in the industrialized southeast.
On October 25, Aecio Neves campaigned in his native state, where he served two terms as governor, and paid a visit to the grave of his grandfather Tancredo, who was elected president in 1985 but died before taking office.
Dilma Rousseff, who has been serving as Brazil’s first woman president since 2010, spent instead the last day of campaigning in her southern stronghold of Porto Alegre, the capital of Rio Grande do Sul, where she held a rally.
The vote is widely seen as a referendum on 12 years of government by her Workers Party.
The PT came to power in 2002 with Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as president.
Its policies are credited with lifting an estimated 40 million Brazilians out of extreme poverty.
However, President Dilma Rousseff’s government has faced allegations of corruption and of overspending in preparations for this year’s football World Cup.
She also presided over rising inflation and a recession this year.
The election comes after weeks of intensive campaigning by the two candidates and a presidential race that turned dramatic after Eduardo Campos, a main opposition candidate, was killed in a plane crash in August.
His running mate, a renowned environmentalist, Marina Silva, was thrust into his spot, vowing to become the South American country’s first “poor, black” president.
Marina Silva came third in the first round after Dilma Rousseff and Aecio Neves secured 41.5% and 33.5% of the vote respectively. [youtube D-vtpOqUxBk 650]
Marina Silva, Brazil’s ex-environment minister, would replace former presidential candidate Eduardo Campos, who was killed in a plane crash on August 13.
Marina Silva is expected to be named in the next few days to run for president in October.
She agreed to run, but the decision still needs to be officially approved by Eduardo Campos’s Socialist Party (PSB).
The Socialists – the major partner in the opposition coalition established to run against President Dilma Rousseff – are expected to announce their decision after a meeting on August 20.
Marina Silva had decided to run for vice-president alongside Eduardo Campos after the Electoral Court in October 2013 refused to register her political movement, Rede Sustentabilidade (The Sustainability Network).
She fell out with the Workers’ Party government and left office to run against Dilma Rousseff in 2010.
An environmentalist and devout evangelical, Marina Silva polled surprisingly well, coming third with nearly 20% of the vote.
Marina Silva is expected to replace late Eduardo Campos to run for Brazil’s president in October
Dilma Rousseff, who is running for re-election in October, is the front-runner. On Sunday, the first opinion polls showing Marina Silva as candidate will be published in Brazil.
The first round of the presidential election will take place on 5 October and will go to a second round later that month if no candidate receives more than 50% of the votes.
The other main candidate is Aecio Neves, a current senator who will represent the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB).
Marina Silva is seen as a strong opponent and one who may win over even more support than Eduardo Campos would have.
She avoided addressing the issue as she travelled to Eduardo Campos’s funeral.
“I have a sense of responsibility and commitment,” she told journalists as she arrived in the north-eastern city of Recife.
Tens of thousands of people are expected to gather in the streets of the city on Sunday to pay their last respects to the popular politician.
Eduardo Campos came from a traditional family of politicians and was governor of Pernambuco for seven years, leaving office earlier this year with high approval rates.
His private jet – a Cessna 560XL – crashed in bad weather in the port city of Santos, in Sao Paulo state. It was travelling from Rio de Janeiro.
An investigation into the causes of the crash, which killed Eduardo Campos, 49, and six others, is under way.
The black box recovered from the wreckage of the plane did not record his flight, Brazilian Air Force (FAB) said.
Brazil’s presidential candidate Eduardo Campos has died in a plane crash, party members and local officials say.
The Brazilian Air Force reported the plane was a Cessna 560XL.
The plane carrying Eduardo Campos came down in bad weather in a residential area of the port city of Santos, in Sao Paulo state.
Local reports say four other passengers and the two pilots were also killed.
President Dilma Rousseff has declared three days of national mourning and cancelled campaign events.
The plane carrying Eduardo Campos came down in bad weather in a residential area of the port city of Santos
Dilma Rousseff’s Vice President, Michel Temer, also expressed his regret over the death of Eduardo Campos, who had been running third in the polls for October’s election.
Eduardo Campos’ family had actively opposed Brazil’s military rule between 1964 and1985.
A married father of five children, Eduardo Campos, 49, served two terms as governor of the north-eastern Pernambuco state.
His vice-presidential candidate, Marina Silva, a popular politician and a former government minister, was reportedly meant to have been on the plane with him but decided not to travel.
Eduardo Campos was flying from Rio de Janeiro to Guaruja airport, outside Sao Paulo, when it hit bad weather, aviation authority spokesman Pedro Luis Farcic said.
According to air force officials, air traffic control lost contact with the plane after it was unable to land at Guaruja due to bad weather.
It plunged into several houses in a densely-populated neighborhood, sending plumes of smoke into the air.
Local residents said the sky was cloudy and it was raining at the time of the crash.
All seven people aboard the plane, including a campaign photographer and cameraman, a press adviser, as well as two pilots, died in the crash, City Hall press officer Patricia Fagueiro told the Associated Press news agency.