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Rousseff lead narrowing ahead of runoff vote

Brazil's presidential front-runner Dilma Rousseff has lost momentum ahead of an Oct. 31 runoff vote but still enjoys a comfortable lead over challenger Jose Serra, opinion polls show.


REUTERS - Brazil ruling party presidential candidate Dilma Rousseff held her lead over her challenger Jose Serra ahead of an Oct. 31 runoff vote, a Datafolha poll showed on Friday.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's hand-picked successor has 47 percent voter support versus 41 percent for Serra, according to the Folha de S.Paulo website.

In a similar Datafolha poll over the weekend Rousseff had a 7 percentage point lead over her rival.

The results are in line with a series of polls that appeared this week showing Rousseff had lost momentum compared to a month ago, after failing to snap up an outright victory in the first round of voting on Oct. 3.

Just over a month ago, Lula's former chief of staff enjoyed a 20 percentage point lead on the back of a red-hot economy and support from the hugely popular president.

But recent allegations of a kickback scheme involving a former top aide to Rousseff, plus questions about her positions on abortion and other social issues appeared to have cost her a first-round victory.

Her poorest showing so far came on Thursday when a survey by polling firm Sensus showed the former governor of Sao Paulo trailing Rousseff by only 4 percentage points -- within the poll's margin of error.

The poll on Friday showed Rousseff receiving 54 percent of valid votes against 46 percent for Serra, when null, blank and undecided votes are stripped out, as they are on election day.

The Datafolha poll surveyed 3,281 voters on Oct. 14 and 15 and has a margin error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

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