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Last updated at 14:55 GMT, Monday, 17 January 2011

Brazil elects its first female president


1 November 2010

Voters in Brazil have chosen the governing Workers' Party candidate, Dilma Rousseff, to be their new president. Ms Rousseff won 56% of the vote in the run-off, beating her rival, the Social Democrat Jose Serra. Paulo Cabral tells the story of Brazil's first female president.

Paulo Cabral

Dilma Rousseff

Rousseff launched her campaign in March


Click to hear the report:


She was a schoolgirl when Brazil fell under military dictatorship in 1964, later becoming a key player in a militant group resisting the dictatorship, for which she was arrested and tortured. Her name is still engraved on the wall of the prison where she spent three years.

A career civil servant, Rousseff became energy minister when Lula da Silva took office in 2002.

In 2005, after a corruption scandal brought down key government figures, Lula da Silva made her his chief of staff, a post she held until March 2010, when she launched her campaign for the presidency as the Workers' Party candidate. With Lula's 80% approval ratings behind her, few doubted her chances of success despite a lacklustre campaign.

On January the first, Dilma Rousseff takes over from the most popular president Brazil has ever known. It won't be an easy act to follow.

Paulo Cabral, BBC News, Sao Paulo


Click to hear the vocabulary:


key player

important person or leader


determined and often willing to use force


words cut or carved into a hard surface

civil servant

a person employed by the government

took office

started an official job

brought down

toppled or made them lose their jobs

launched (her) campaign

started asking people to vote for her

approval ratings

level of popularity


uninspiring or jaded

act to follow

difficult to surpass

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