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Monday, 7 October, 2002, 18:58 GMT 19:58 UK
Brazil's Lula woos rivals
Lula supporters celebrating the results
Lula has a lot of popular support
The front-runner in Brazil's presidential election has said he wants to "widen [his] alliances" ahead of the final round of the poll.

We are now seeking to widen our alliances

Despite winning nearly twice as many votes as his nearest opponent in the first round on Sunday, left-wing candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva still remained short of an absolute majority to win outright.

Today is better than yesterday. And tomorrow will be better than today

Jose Serra

He said he would seek the support of those opposed to the country's current, free-market economic model to win the second round.

His remaining challenger, Jose Serra, has promised to continue President Henrique Cardoso's policies.

Correspondents say the outcome of the run-off on 27 October is far from certain despite Mr da Silva's substantial lead.

But the two presidential candidates eliminated from the first round of the vote both, like Mr da Silva, hailed from centre-left or leftist parties.

'Delayed victory'

With 98.3% of the ballots counted, Mr da Silva had won 46.4% of the vote, trailed by Serra with 23.2%.

At a news conference in Sao Paolo, the former metalworker and trade union activist universally known as Lula, hailed the outcome.

"We are going to win the election, it was only delayed a bit," Mr da Silva said.

"This was a historic vote and I wish to thank the millions of Brazilians who voted to give the Workers' Party their greatest victory ever."

He added that the Brazilians had voted to turn away from "one economic model" to another.

But his opponent was also upbeat about his chances.

First round results
Lula: 46.4%
Jose Serra: 23.2%
Anthony Garotinho: 17.9%
Ciro Gomes: 12%
"Today is better than yesterday, Mr Serra said. "And tomorrow will be better than today."

Both men have begun wooing their defeated rivals.

"We are going to reach out to all the men and women that voted for the opposition and try to conquer them, but with a lot of affection," the front-runner said. "We are now seeking to widen our alliances."

Mr da Silva has made it through to the second round before, only to fail to win the presidency, but he has not had such high levels of first-round support before.

Correspondents say the run-off will be closer, as Mr Serra will be able to concentrate solely on attacking Mr da Silva and his policies rather than worrying about the other two candidates who were vying for second place.

Markets troubled

Few analysts are predicting that Mr da Silva will lose a second round, but none are prepared to rule it out either.

The result of the presidential election is seen as crucial, as it is widely believed that it could dramatically change the political direction of Latin America's biggest country and have repercussions far beyond the region.

Government-backed candidate Jose Serra
Serra: "tomorrow - a better day"

If Mr da Silva is victorious, he would become Brazil's first elected leftist leader.

Brazil has seen its currency plunge amid investors' worries over Mr da Silva's ability to run the economy, and concern has grown that the country might default on its $260bn debt.

On Monday, the first-round winner said it was up to President Cardoso to ease any uncertainties.

Mr da Silva has toned down his left-wing rhetoric, stressing that he would respect international agreements and stick to stable economic policies.

Sunday's vote was also to elect the state governors, who wield considerable power, and senators and deputies to the federal congress where no party is likely to achieve a majority. State deputies were also elected.

The BBC's Rodney Smith
"Business leaders across Brazil have been moving fast to try and associate themselves with all sides in this election"
Mark Weisbrot, Centre for Economic & Policy Research
"Even in the last eight years... the economy has grown very slowly"
The BBC's Tom Gibb reports from Sao Paulo
"It's going to be a hard fought second round"

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See also:

07 Oct 02 | Media reports
03 Oct 02 | Business
27 Sep 02 | Business
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