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Last Updated: Monday, 19 September 2005, 07:43 GMT 08:43 UK
Lula's party elects new leaders
By Steve Kingstone
BBC News, Sao Paulo

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Brazilian President
President Lula did not vote in his party's elections
Brazil's governing Workers' Party has begun choosing a new leadership after a corruption scandal that forced the resignation of several senior figures.

In July, the party admitted to having illegally received funds of $24m.

The revelations led to the resignation of the party president and several high-level colleagues.

On Sunday, 800,000 members were eligible to vote for new leaders at local and national level. The election result is expected this week.

Disappointment

With its reputation in tatters, the Workers' Party desperately needs a fresh start.

This election will produce a new set of leaders in theory untainted by past corruption.

But Sunday's vote was also about ideology.

Many rank-and-file members are disappointed with the party's performance in government.

They say President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been too conservative economically, that he has courted foreign investors while neglecting Brazil's poor.

Loyalty

Of the seven candidates for party president, most now want the government to move to the left.

They are demanding more spending on health and education. Some would like to see the finance minister replaced.

But for now the favourite in this race remains the continuity candidate, Ricardo Berzoini.

As a former cabinet minister, he says the first duty of the party is to offer loyalty to the Lula government.

Surprisingly, Lula himself did not vote on Sunday, perhaps wanting to distance himself from his party's recent troubles.

If there is no clear winner this week, the top two candidates for party president will take part in a run-off early next month.




SEE ALSO:
Embattled Lula vows more reforms
08 Sep 05 |  Americas
Brazil MPs face corruption claims
02 Sep 05 |  Americas
Brazil rally urges Lula to resign
18 Aug 05 |  Americas
Brazilians rally to support Lula
16 Aug 05 |  Americas
Scandal-hit Lula calls for trust
13 Aug 05 |  Americas
Q&A: Brazil corruption claims
12 Jul 05 |  Americas


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