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Archive for Monday, October 2, 2006

Possible presidential runoff in Brazil tops busy election day around world

October 2, 2006

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— Brazil's leftist president was falling just short of the majority of votes needed to avoid a runoff and win re-election Sunday after his party was slammed in the final days of the campaign with charges of corruption and dirty tricks.

With 87 percent of the ballots counted, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva had 49.4 percent of the vote compared to 40.8 percent for center-right Geraldo Alckmin, Sao Paulo state's former governor.

Silva, who had been favored to win due to the economic stability and anti-poverty programs he brought to Brazil, needs 50 percent plus one vote to win the contest Sunday. If he fails to get that, he and Alckmin head to a runoff on Oct. 29.

For months, polls have shown Silva easily winning the race. But Silva saw his once-commanding lead plummet on the eve of the vote as his Workers' Party was battered by allegations that party officials tried to buy a mysterious dossier that apparently contained incriminating information about a political rival.

Silva's party claimed that Alckmin's supporters were involved, and filed a complaint Sunday with a judge demanding that Alckmin's candidacy be declared invalid because of the leak. The judge has said he would consider the case. Alckmin's campaign has denied involvement.

Voters also went to the polls Sunday in several other countries.

¢ Bosnians appeared split in key elections on the country's future Sunday, with Muslims and Catholic Croats voting for politicians who want to unify the Balkan nation, but Serbs backing a candidate who advocates ethnic division, early results showed.

With up to 50 percent of the vote counted, election officials said it appeared that Nebojsa Radmanovic - whose party chief recently proposed a referendum that would allow Serb territories to secede - would win Orthodox Christian Serbs in Bosnia's three-member presidency.

Officials said his counterparts looked likely to be strong advocates of a united Bosnia: Haris Silajdzic, who won election to the Muslim Bosniak seat, and Ivo Miro Jovic, who was leading a tight race for re-election as the Croat representative.

Further results were to be announced today.

¢ In Austria, opposition Social Democrats won nationwide elections on Sunday, swinging the country to the center-left after more than six years of influence by the extreme right, final unofficial returns showed.

Although Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel did not formally concede the election, he congratulated the leader of the Social Democrats, Alfred Gusenbauer, who would likely become the country's next chancellor. "We are a democratic country," Schuessel said.

¢ Opposition parties made big gains in municipal elections in Hungary following two weeks of protests over the prime minister' admission that he lied about the economy.

Ferenc Gyurcsany, who has resisted weeks of demands that he step down, vowed to continue reforms and austerity measures despite the electoral setback for the coalition parties.

The elections were a chance for voters to judge the government after the leak of a tape on which Gyurcsany admitted repeatedly that he lied about the economy in order to get re-elected. The admission led to two days of riots last month that left nearly 150 police and dozens of participants injured - the worst violence since the 1956 uprising against Communist rule.

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