2010 Brazilian presidential election

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2010 Brazilian presidential election

← 2006 3 and 31 October 2010 2014 →
  Dilma Rousseff 2010 Transparent.png José Serra no Rio.jpg
Nominee Dilma Rousseff José Serra
Home state Minas Gerais São Paulo
Running mate Michel Temer Indio da Costa
States carried 15 + DF 11
Popular vote 55,752,483 43,711,162
Percentage 56.05% 43.95%

2010 Brazilian presidential election map (Round 2).svg
Presidential election results map after the second round of voting: Red denotes states won by Dilma, and Blue denotes those won by Serra.

President before election

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva

Elected President

Dilma Rousseff

The Brazilian presidential election was held in 2010 with two rounds of balloting. The first round was held on October 3 along with other elections as part of the 2010 general election. As no presidential candidate polled 50 percent of the vote on October 3, a runoff was held on October 31 between Dilma Rousseff[1] and José Serra:[2] Rousseff won with 56% of the second round vote.[3]

The election determined the successor to President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, of the Workers' Party.[4] According to the Constitution, the president is elected directly for a four-year term, with a limit of two consecutive terms. Lula was thus not eligible to stand again as he has already served two terms after winning the elections in 2002 and being re-elected in 2006.[5] This was the first time since the inaugural presidential election after the military dictatorship that he did not run for president.[6]

Election overview[edit]

The candidates of the two major political groups of the country were Lula's former Chief of Staff, Dilma Rousseff, of the ruling centre-left democratic socialist/social democratic Workers' Party (PT), and São Paulo State former governor, José Serra, from the centre-right[7] opposition coalition formed mainly by the[8][9] Social Democratic Party (PSDB), and the right-wing Democrats (DEM).[10]

Both candidates offered little threat to the economic stability of the country, but they differed significantly on issues such as fiscal discipline, foreign policy and state intervention.[6] They were both likely to maintain a primary budget surplus to make public debt payments and reduce the ratio of debt to GDP. Some analysts believe Serra would have contained expenditure more effectively.[6] Rousseff, in the other hand, favors a bigger role for state enterprises in the economy, which could reduce participation by private firms in sectors such as banking, oil and gas.[6] Serra, who authorized the sale of Nossa Caixa bank in 2008, is seen as more open to privatization, as well as cuts in the public sector payroll.[8] While past elections brought economic instability, in 2010 neither candidate was expected to stray far from current economic policies.[11]

Rousseff was expected to continue Lula's foreign policy, boosting ties with developing nations, pushing for reform of multilateral bodies and lobbying for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.[6] Serra would likely have cooled ties with Lula's left-wing allies in Latin America, which could affect energy investments in both Bolivia and Venezuela.[6] He could also take a harder line in trade disputes with Argentina and Mercosur.[6] According to Mark Weisbrot, in an op-ed published by The Guardian Unlimited on January 29, 2010, if the centre-right candidate wins the race, it "would really be a huge win for the [U.S.] State Department." He argues that "while U.S. officials under both Bush and Obama have maintained a friendly posture toward Brazil, it is obvious that they deeply resent the changes in Brazilian foreign policy [...] and its independent stances with regard to the Middle East, Iran and elsewhere."[12]

Another main candidate was Marina Silva, Lula's former Minister of Environment. She is the candidate for the Green Party (PV), which she joined on late 2009 after leaving the PT, which she helped establishing in the 1980s.[13] She has obtained international recognition as a defender of the Amazon Rainforest, but is less known in her native Brazil, being unable to obtain more support than the other two major candidates in opinion polls.[14]

Ciro Gomes, former governor of Ceará and Minister for National Integration during Lula's first cabinet, was a possible candidate for the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB). The ruling centre-left group was worried that his bid could take votes from Rousseff,[8] and thus, on April 27, PSB declined to launch his candidacy in order to support her.[15] Gomes, which had appeared on third place in polls from May 2009 to April 2010, was also a presidential candidate in 1998 and 2002, when he had a poor result after making sexist remarks and struggling to control his temper.[8] He was a proponent of restructuring Brazil's debt.[8]

Another pre-candidate was Heloísa Helena from the Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL).[8] She is a former Senator for Alagoas and founded the Socialism and Liberty Party after she was expelled from the Workers' Party in 2003 for criticizing its move to the centre.[8] She was the only candidate which could potentially abandon current market-friendly economic policies.[8] However, she declined to run for president and try to win back her Senate seat.[16] On June 30, 2010, Plínio de Arruda Sampaio was nominated by the PSOL's convention.

There were speculations that PSOL would form a broad coalition with Silva. As the media printed such news, the United Socialist Workers' Party announced that if this coalition was formed, it would launch the candidacy of its president José Maria de Almeida.[17] However, a resolution approved by members of PSOL determined that the coalition would be formed if PV gave up its alliances with the Lula administration, PSDB, DEM, and neoliberal stances.[16] This resolution would make it very hard for the two parties to ally, since PV is led by José Sarney's son Sarney Filho and Silva herself has said that her candidacy could not be perceived as opposing Lula.[16] Another faction of PV, led by Fernando Gabeira, is explicitly in favor of an alliance with PSDB, which left very few people in the party able to accept the proposal.[16] As Rede Brasil Atual reported, "the coalition move[d] more by the desire of Green Party pre-candidate, Marina Silva, and Socialism and Liberty Party President, Heloísa Helena, than by aspirations of both parties".[18]

The election also featured five candidates from smaller parties, bringing the number of presidential candidates to a total of nine.[19] They are Ivan Pinheiro from the Brazilian Communist Party (PCB), José Maria de Almeida from the United Socialist Workers' Party (PSTU), Rui Costa Pimenta from the Workers' Cause Party (PCO), José Maria Eymael from the Christian Social Democratic Party (PSDC), and Levy Fidélix from the Brazilian Labour Renewal Party (PRTB).[19] According to the Supreme Electoral Court's guidelines, they were not able to participate in televised debates, since their parties were not represented in the lower house of the National Congress.[20]

Rousseff became the sixth Latin American woman elected as a head of state, after Nicaragua's Violeta Chamorro in 1990, Panama's Mireya Moscoso in 1999, Chile's Michelle Bachelet in 2006, Argentina's Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in 2007, and Costa Rica's Laura Chinchilla in 2010.[21]


Candidate Running mate Coalition Political spectrum
Dilma Rousseff
Michel Temer
"For Brazil to keep on changing"
Social democracy, Centre-left to Left-wing
Ivan Pinheiro
Edmilson Costa [pt]
José Maria de Almeida
Cláudia Durans
Communism, Trotskyism
José Maria Eymael
José Paulo da Silva Neto
Christian democracy
José Serra
Indio da Costa
"Brazil can do more"
Social democracy, centrism
Levy Fidelix
Luiz Eduardo Ayres Duarte
Populism, Social conservatism
Marina Silva
Guilherme Leal
Green politics, centrism
Plínio de Arruda Sampaio
Hamilton Assis
Rui Costa Pimenta
Edson Dorta Silva
Communism, Trotskyism


The official campaign began on July 6, 2010.[23] The Supreme Electoral Court has accepted the candidacies of all nine applicant candidates. According to the Supreme Electoral Court's guidelines, once the official campaign began the candidates are allowed to participate on marches, motorcades, and use sound trucks to ask for votes and distributing leaflets.[23] But they are forbidden to distribute shirts, hats, and gifts such as keyrings and pens.[23] Rallies are allowed, but music concerts are prohibited.[23] The candidates are not allowed to advertise on streetlights, bridges, clubs and other places of common use.[23] Billboard ads are also prohibited, as well as attendance in inauguration of public premises.[23]


Public health[edit]

One of the main public health issues debated so far in the election, raised by Rousseff's campaign, is the addiction to crack cocaine.[24] As a response to her campaign, Serra said he will establish clinics to treat addicts.[25] He also said he will hand over 150 medical specialties clinics in two years.[25] Rousseff said she will expand measures currently implemented by the Lula government.[25] She has also advocated the need for national production and distribution of medicines, through increased public investment.[25] Silva has advocated the focus on disease prevention.[25]


Serra has pledged to invest in the infrastructure of primary public schools, while Rousseff said that eradicating illiteracy is her top priority.[25] She has also proposed the creation of a National Articulated System of Education to redesign the mechanisms employed in managing the sector.[25] Silva said her focus is to invest intensively in all levels of formal education. She has also advocated the expansion of technologies access and the adoption of central lines to be addressed by educators.[25]


Serra has compromised to retain Bolsa Família, claiming it will be expanded through aids to young people that take vocational education courses.[25] Dilma also said that she will expand the program, defending the "institutional strengthening" of the Ministry of Social Development and Action Against Hunger, which means that the ministry will be responsible for integrating all social policies of the government.[25] Silva defends a "third generation of social welfare", which would be achieved through partnerships with the private sector and the structuring of more educational projects.[25]


Serra has committed to expand technical schools in order to create more jobs.[25] He has also said that improving the infrastructure of public services will be a tool for creating new jobs.[25] Rousseff has defended the maintenance of the economic policies of the Lula government, but has also promised to hold a tax reform in order to alleviate the expenses of workers.[25] Silva has proposed the creation of green jobs through tax incentives for environmentally friendly businesses, in order to reduce the emission and consumption of carbon dioxide.[25]

Public safety[edit]

Although it was not included on his government plan, Serra's main proposal for public safety is the creation of a Ministry of Public Safety.[25] On the other hand, Rousseff has promised to expand the current National Public Security and Citizenship Program to the whole country.[25] She has also proposed the creation of a Constitutional Fund for Public Security, which would give aids in the wages of police officers nationwide.[25] Silva defended the creation of a "new institutional structure for public safety", which would combine the police work with investments in preventive policies.[25]


For the 2010 presidential election, the Supreme Electoral Court has approved three televised debates, in addition to an unprecedented internet debate, which will be held by UOL and Folha de S.Paulo on August 18.[26]

According to the Supreme Electoral Court's guidelines, the candidates whose parties are not represented in the lower chamber of the National Congress are not able to participate in televised debates.[20] Such candidates are challenging this decision in order to be able to participate on the debates.[20]

The first presidential debate took place on August 5, held by Rede Bandeirantes.[26] The second debate was held on August 18, 2010 by internet portal UOL and newspaper Folha de S.Paulo. It was the first presidential debate broadcast exclusively through internet in the history of the country.

Electoral programme[edit]

Presidential debate.

According to the electoral law, all free-to-air television and radio networks must carry two 50-minute time slots a day[27] from August 17 until September 30, 2010.[28] The time allocated to each candidate is based on the number of seats held by the parties comprising their coalition in the Chamber of Deputies.[28] The electoral programs are considered a key campaign tool in Brazil, where TV and radio are the main sources of information for most voters.[27] The free air time on radio and TV also includes candidates contesting races for Governors, Legislative Assemblies, and both houses of the Congress.[27] Parties are also allowed to run six 30-second advertisements per day.[27]

Serra's electoral programs on TV were criticized for focusing too much on public health issues, with Financial Times correspondent Jonathan Wheatley saying that "[one] would think he was running for health minister".[29] In the other hand, Rousseff's programs have been noted for their professionalism and production quality,[29] while Marina Silva's programs were criticized for their lack of cohesion.[30] Journalist Ricardo Noblat commented on his blog that her first TV program seemed more like "a BBC documentary on the environment" than an electoral program.[30] Serra was also the target of criticism by Silva on the UOL/Folha debate for the use of a scenic favela in his program, while São Paulo still has many slums.[31] After the airing of Serra's second program, singer Elba Ramalho, which had one of her songs featured in it, released a note stating that she did not recorded the jingle used by the candidate, and that is not her voice featured in the program.[32] Although she publicly supported Serra in 2002, she stated she would maintain her neutrality in this election.[32] In spite of this declaration, Ramalho decided to support Rousseff on the second round.[33]

Serra's first television program was also the target of ridicule by Twitter users over the unintended double entendre of a phrase he said.[34] In the video, which has been posted over 24 times on Google Video, he cites examples of people which benefited from his former public office experiences.[34] However, in order to exemplify it, he used the preposition como, which can be used as both "as" and the first person inflection of the verb "to eat", that has a negative connotation for "to have sex with".[34]

According to a poll conducted by Census Institute on August 20–22, 42.9% of voters claimed they are watching or listening to the electoral programs on either radio or TV.[35] Dilma had the best electoral programs for 56% of them, while Serra's programs were preferred by 34%.[35] Silva's programs were chosen as the best by only 7.5% of them.[35]

Second round alliances[edit]

On October 20, after PSOL instructed its members to vote for either PT's Dilma Rousseff or blank/null in the second round,[36] Heloísa Helena decided to leave the presidency of the party.[37] She felt that the party "lacked identity" with the support to Rousseff.[37] The party's presidential candidate declared that he would vote null, while PSOL's congressmen declared their "critical vote" on Rousseff.[36] Party members were oriented "not to give any votes to Serra".[36]

PCB took a similar stance, saying they will "defeat Serra on the ballots and Dilma on the streets".[38] PSTU, in the other hand, advocated the null voting on the second round.[39] PV held a convention, where most of the 92 voting members decided that the party should stay neutral in the second round.[40] Party members were free to support either of the two candidates, but they were forbidden to use flags or other party symbols.[40] If they did so, they could have been punished with disaffiliation.[40]

On October 14, the Progressive Party, a member of the Lulista[clarification needed] coalition bloc in the National Congress which had remained neutral in the first round, decided to support Dilma.[41] Most of its directories and candidates had already supported Rousseff on the first round.[41] The Brazilian Labour Renewal Party also supported Rousseff in the second round. Levy Fidélix posted a photo on his Flickr account where he is accompanied by supporters holding flags of Rousseff's campaign.[42][dubious ]

Opinion polling[edit]

From January 1, 2010 up to the day preceding the election, all polls had to be registered with the Supreme Electoral Court.[43]

Opinion polling in 2010

According to polls, Rousseff was most likely to have won the race in the first round with over 50% of the valid voting intentions. She had a rapid increase in her popularity since mid-2009,[why?] and thus consolidated her lead against Serra, who had led the polls for over two years. She was given a further boost when incumbent President Lula campaigned on her behalf on her television programmes.[8] Marina Silva was not able to reach more than 10% in the polls, but at the end of the campaign she experienced a rapid boost,[why?] and achieved 14% at the last poll. The other candidates had been unable to reach more than 2%. The number of undecided voters and those who declared an intention to vote blank or null was at about 12% according to the last poll.

Election results[edit]

Nationwide results[edit]

Presidential candidate Running mate 1st Round
October 3
2nd Round
October 31
Popular vote
Absolute Percentage Absolute Percentage
Dilma Rousseff (PT) Michel Temer (PMDB) 47,651,434 46.91% 55,752,529 56.05%
José Serra (PSDB) Indio da Costa (DEM) 33,132,283 32.61% 43,711,388 43.95%
Marina Silva (PV) Guilherme Leal (PV) 19,636,359 19.33%
Plínio de Arruda Sampaio (PSOL) Hamilton Assis (PSOL) 886,816 0.87%
José Maria Eymael (PSDC) José Paulo da Silva Neto (PSDC) 89,350 0.09%
José Maria de Almeida (PSTU) Cláudia Durans (PSTU) 84,609 0.08%
Levy Fidélix (PRTB) Luiz Eduardo Ayres Duarte (PRTB) 57,960 0.06%
Ivan Pinheiro (PCB) Edmilson Costa (PCB) 39,136 0.04%
Rui Costa Pimenta (PCO) Edson Dorta Silva (PCO) 12,206 0.01%
Valid votes 101,590,153 91.36% 99,463,917 93.30%
→ Blank votes 3,479,340 3.13% 2,452,597 2.30%
→ Null votes 6,124,254 5.51% 4,689,428 4.40%
Total votes 111,193,747 81.88% 106,606,214 78.50%
→ Abstention 24,610,296 18.12% 29,197,152 21.50%
Electorate 135,804,433 100.00% 135,804,433 100.00%

State results[edit]

First round[edit]

States/districts won by Dilma Rousseff
States/districts won by José Serra
States/districts won by Marina Silva

Second round[edit]

States/districts won by Dilma Rousseff
States/districts won by José Serra
By municipality[44][edit]
██ Municipalities won by Rousseff with less than 65% of the votes
██ Municipalities won by Rousseff with over 65% of the votes
██ Municipalities won by Serra with less than 65% of the votes
██ Municipalities won by Serra with over 65% of the votes

Worldwide results[edit]

Election results following the first round of voting by expatriate voters.

First round[edit]

Countries/territories won by Dilma Rousseff
Countries/territories won by José Serra
Countries/territories won by Marina Silva

Second round[edit]

Election results following the second round of voting by expatriate voters.
Countries/territories won by Dilma Rousseff
Countries/territories won by José Serra

International reaction[edit]


One of the important outcomes of the election was seen as the role of new media.[76] Al Jazeera English also analysed the difference between the Brazil and Myanmar elections where the former was a "defeat for big media" and the latter saw a media clampdown in the run-up to the election.[77]


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External links[edit]