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Saturday, 5 October, 2002, 17:44 GMT 18:44 UK
Brazil press optimistic over elections
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva
Lula is the front-runner in Sunday's election

As Brazil prepares to vote for a new president on Sunday, leading commentators express optimism for the country's future but also a feeling that the result is a foregone conclusion.

Enthusiasm is, however, tempered with warnings of the pitfalls facing the eventual victor. Most predict it will be front runner Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, or Lula, once known as a left-wing firebrand.


It's a shame they don't govern jointly, as a quadrumvirate

Carlos Heitor Cony in Folha de Sao Paulo

Commentators from across the political spectrum are sympathetic to all four presidential candidates - Lula, the distinguished academic and former health minister Jose Serra, former finance minister Ciro Gomes, and committed Christian and radio show host Anthony Garotinho.

'One big fiesta'

Writing in the top circulation, centre-left Folha de Sao Paulo, novelist Carlos Heitor Cony praises all four, saying he was smitten when they all "revealed an impressive and encyclopaedic knowledge of the country's problems".

"They are all equally capable of ruling and it is a shame they don't govern jointly, as a quadrumvirate. Rome had its consuls, France, its Directory. A collective and harmonious government wouldn't be an historical novelty."


Opinion polls show the vast majority have a hope for a better future

Mario Moreira Alves in O Globo

Columnist Mario Moreira Alves, in the centre-right O Globo, hails the "consolidation of democracy" and says the election campaign was "one big party".

"The expansive happiness of the Brazilian is a true miracle. In spite of the economic crisis, unemployment and the decrease in real wages, opinion polls show the vast majority have a hope for a better future."

Mr Moreira Alves continues: "This is the key to the success the Labour Party and its candidate [Lula] expect to achieve tomorrow."

Lula is quoted as saying: "Today, we are much more than a party. We are a hope for the future."

Tolerance urged

But there is a warning for him. Victory will demand from Lula and his party "tolerance, accommodation and patience to form the appropriate alliances and guarantee governability," says Mr Moreira Alves.

For Helio Jaguaribe writing in the conservative daily Jornal do Brasil, Lula is all but home and dry.

"This election of Lula represents a true consolidation of Brazilian democracy," he says.


Lula could find himself confronting an Allende-type situation

Helio Jaguaribe in Jornal do Brasil

But Mr Jaguaribe fears that Lula will be put to a mighty test from the outset, risking the possibility of a military coup if he bows to the demands of movements like that representing landless rural workers which demand radical agrarian reform.

"Faced with this probable scenario, Lula could find himself confronting an Allende-type situation," he writes, referring to the Chilean leader Salvador Allende, toppled in a CIA-backed coup in 1973.

Mr Jaguaribe also warns that another huge problem facing Lula will be "to reduce, and speedily, our dependence on the international financial system".

"If he manages to maintain the rule of law over the abuses of the landless movement and others and adopts the reforms the country needs, a future Lula government could be one of the most successful in our history."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

See also:

04 Oct 02 | Country profiles
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