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Brazil: Lula paves the way for his chosen successor

A little-known politician who has never run for office before will likely be Brazil's next president.

In the streets of Rio de Janeiro, Bolsa Familia has won the vote of Dania Ferreira, a 50-year-old street vendor with two children to support. Ferreira couldn’t buy food and medicine without the program, she said, making her electoral logic simple.

“I’ll vote for Dilma, because of Lula,” Ferreira said as she made change for customers on a recent afternoon. “Lula created the Bolsa Familia.”

But even if such seemingly simple calculations can win the election for Lula’s chosen successor, the job facing Rousseff remains tough.

She’ll inherit already-delayed efforts to build infrastructure needed to host the Olympics and World Cup. In addition to dealing with perennial issues like tax and pension reform, she’ll also be in charge of how the country develops a field of deep-sea oil reserves rumored to rival those of Russia or Kuwait. Lula may have helped Brazil get its seat at the table of world power, but analysts say it will be up to Rousseff to ensure the country stays there.

“If Dilma makes some serious policy mistakes the whole image of Brazil as a BRIC collapses,” Roett said. “This is not an easy country to manage.”

But Moises Furtado de Morais, a 70-year-old snack vendor who plies the streets in Rio de Janeiro’s Centro neighborhood, says little of that will matter when he heads to the polls.

He said he supports Rousseff, because “she is from Lula, from his party.” In fact, when initially speaking about the election, Rousseff’s name didn’t come up at all.

When a stranger first asked whom he’s voting for, Morais simply said, “Lula.”