UPDATE 9-Leftist Rousseff narrowly wins re-election in Brazil
(Adds detail from Rousseff's speech)
By Brian Winter and Anthony Boadle
SAO PAULO/BRASILIA Oct 26 (Reuters) - Brazil's leftist President Dilma Rousseff narrowly won re-election on Sunday after convincing voters that her party's strong record of reducing poverty over the last 12 years was more important than an ongoing economic slump.
After the closest, most divisive campaign since Brazil returned to democracy three decades ago, Rousseff won 51.6 percent of votes in a runoff against centrist opposition leader Aecio Neves, who won 48.4 percent support.
The vote split Latin America's biggest country almost evenly in two along lines of both social class and geography. Neves prevailed in Brazil's richer south, southeast and center-west, while Rousseff took the Amazon north and impoverished northeast.
Voting was peaceful and Brazil's robust democracy is free of the political violence that mars some other countries in the region. Yet, mindful of the deep economic challenges facing the country, both Neves and Rousseff sounded a cautious, conciliatory tone in speeches on Sunday night.
"I call on all Brazilians, without exceptions, to unite in favor of Brazil's future," Rousseff, her voice hoarse after weeks of campaigning, told a raucous crowd of party supporters gathered at a hotel in Brasilia. "I want to be a much better president than I have been until now."
However, she gave no clear indication of any impending changes to the heavy-handed economic policies that have alienated many investors since she took office in 2011, limiting herself to a pledge to seek to restore growth.
The result means another four years in power for the Workers' Party, which since 2003 has virtually transformed Brazil - lifting 40 million from poverty, reducing unemployment to record lows and making big inroads against hunger in what remains one of the world's most unequal countries. Continuación...