Americas

Brazil's Evangelicals Make Voting Bloc Debut

Forced presidential runoff demonstrates the importance of Protestant voters.

On Sunday, Brazilians elected their first woman president in what many commentators labeled a mandate to continue the popular policies of outgoing president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

In her first speech as president-elect, Dilma Rousseff thanked many people but did not thank God—something many voters had expected her to do amid a campaign drenched in outreach to evangelical voters. Dispute over Rousseff's support for same-sex marriage and abortion led both her and defeated candidate Jose Serra to turn to pastor-advisors and Christian outreach committees to gain evangelical sympathy.

But what drew the most attention about evangelical voters came in an earlier round of voting, as nearly 20 million Brazilians cast votes for Marina Silva, a former environment minister and committed Assemblies of God member from a small party with little money. With more than 19 percent of the vote, Silva forced an unexpected runoff between Rousseff and Serra.

The largest private research institute ...

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