October 6, 2010

Cornell Alumnus Trails in Brazilian Presidency Race

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Trailing 15 points in the polls with under a month until election day, José Serra Ph.D. ’77 faces an uphill battle in his bid to become the next president of Brazil.

But Serra is familiar with adversity and long odds. Before receiving both a master’s degree and a doctorate in economics at Cornell, Serra was first exiled from Brazil in 1964 — and then again from Chile in 1973 following Augusto Pinochet’s coup d’etat.

Serra is trying to defeat Dilma Rousseff — the chosen successor of current President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva — whose failure to win a plurality of votes in the first round of voting triggered a two-candidate runoff slated for Oct. 31. Rousseff “made an unexpectedly poor showing” during the first round of voting, according to The Economist.

Still, the center-right Serra, representing the Party of Brazilian Social Democracy, trails the left-leaning Rousseff by a significant margin. To make up ground before election day, Serra hopes to secure the endorsement of the Green Party candidate Marina Silver, who won approximately 20 percent of the initial vote.

If Serra wins the Oct. 31 runoff, he would become the fourth head of state to have attended Cornell, following Czech Republic President Vaclav Klaus ’69, former President of China Lee Teng-hui ’68 and former President of Cuba Mario Garcia Menocal, class of 1888

Original Author: Jeff Stein