Fernando Haddad of Brazil’s ruling Workers Party, a protégé of ex-president Lula da Silva, won Sao Paulo’s mayoral runoff election, according to official results. With 92% of ballots counted, Haddad had secured 56% to defeat his opposition rival and former presidential candidate Jose Serra of the Brazilian Social Democratic Party who received 43.9%.
Haddad, a former education minister of Lebanese descent, will succeed Gilberto Kassab as head of Brazil’s most populous and wealthiest city.
The 49-year-old owes his victory in large part to the overt support he received from both Lula da Silva and President Dilma Rousseff, and thanked both during this victory speech. When he took off the mostly unknown former minister had a support of 2% and was running third with two weeks for the first round.
However Lula da Silva, recovered from his throat cancer participated actively in the campaign and managed to turn the situation, helping Hadda make it to the run off.
“Long live president Lula,” he said at a raucous celebration, vowing to unite Sao Paulo residents from all walks of life to bring about greater social and economic progress.
Haddad’s win in the metropolis of 11 million people, financial and industrial hub of Brazil, was seen as a major success for both the Workers Party and Lula da Silva and came despite fallout from a high-profile political corruption scandal embroiling the ruling party.
Twenty-five of 37 former ministers, lawmakers, businessmen and bankers facing prosecution before the Supreme Court have been charged with corruption over a 2002 to 2005 vote-buying scheme in Congress during Lula da Silva’s first term.
They include Lula’s former chief of staff Jose Dirceu. While Lula da Silva was cleared, the scandal nearly cost the 68-year-old his re-election in 2006.
Haddad, who takes office on January 1, has vowed to modernise the economic capital, one of the 12 Brazilian cities that will host the 2014 World Cup.
This will include tackling Sao Paulo’s glaring economic inequality, inadequate mass transit system, horrendous traffic, shortage of low-income housing and large drug addict population.
The Sao Paulo race was the biggest prize in Sunday’s nationwide municipal runoff vote viewed as a gauge of the balance of power between the PT and the PSDB ahead of the 2014 presidential elections.