Yesterday, October 5th an estimate of 143 million Brazilians (including myself) went to the polls to vote for President, in one of the most disputed presidential elections since democracy was re-established in Brazil in the 80′s.

In an unpredictable result, Brazil’s current president Dilma Rousseff won 41.6% and will face Aécio Neves, a pro-business center-right former governor and senator, with deep political roots, who got an unexpected 33.6% of the votes. The environmentalist Marina Silva was a favorite in the polls to face Dilma in the second round. But surprisingly she got only 21.3%, and is now out of the race.

Now the Oct. 26 runoff will be a battle between the candidates of Brazil’s two most powerful parties, (Worker’s Party – PT and Social Democracy Party – PSDB) which together have elected all of Brazil’s presidents the past 20 years. Neves and Rousseff have different ideologies and visions for Brazil. PSDB has been the main opposition against the administrations of Lula and Dilma Rousseff.

PT has been almost 12 years in power and its strongest support comes from the poorest. During her 4 years in the presidency Dilma has focused on preserving jobs and expanding social welfare benefits, but it’s important to remember that she has been blamed for a stagnant economy, and was recently criticized for a scandal at Petrobras, the national oil company.

Aécio Neves vows market-friendly policies reducing the state’s role in the economy and encouraging investment. His party, PSDB was in government from 1994 to 2002, a period that saw important pro-market reforms but is also remembered by most voters for high unemployment and budget cuts.

Brazilians seem to want a change and are concerned about the future. In three weeks we will finally find out who will lead the world’s 7th largest economy for the next four years, and hopefully make some much needed changes.

Palácio do Planalto, Brasília