Brazil has been voting to elect the country’s next leader in a presidential runoff between left-wing incumbent Dilma Rousseff and surprise challenger right-leaning Aecio Neves.
Rousseff’s social welfare programmes have won her support from the country’s working class and lifted more than 40 million people from poverty, while Neves’s pro-business policies promise to jump-start Brazil’s stagnant economy.
Neves is a former state governor of Minas Gerais and popular among upper-middle class and wealthy Brazilians.
He says he will keep the popular social benefits while promising to reign in public spending, reduce inflation and give the central bank more autonomy to set monetary policy.
Although unemployment remains at historic lows, economists see few bright spots on the horizon.
“Regardless of who wins, the economic model in Brazil is exhausted and needs real change to grow again,” said Luis Otavio Leal, an economist at Banco ABC Brazil in Sao Paulo.
The final two opinion polls before today’s vote showed Rousseff as slight favourite,with one putting her ahead by 6 percentage points.
But another showed Neves pulling ahead in Minas Gerais, the state he governed for two terms.