UPDATE 4-Brazilians voting in nail-biter election for president

domingo 5 de octubre de 2014 16:10 GYT

(Adds Lula comment on Neves, details on voting machines)

By Paulo Prada and Caroline Stauffer

RIO DE JANEIRO/SAO PAULO Oct 5 (Reuters) - Voters across Brazil cast ballots on Sunday in an unpredictable election that will decide whether Latin America's largest economy adopts a more free-market approach after 12 years of leftist Workers' Party rule.

As President Dilma Rousseff seeks a second term, voters are weighing whether progress rescuing millions from poverty is enough to reject challenges from a popular environmentalist and a pro-business social democrat. Both her opponents promise to jump-start the economy after four years of lackluster growth.

Polls show Rousseff as the frontrunner in a race that is likely to go to a runoff on Oct. 26, following one of the most competitive campaigns since Brazil returned to democracy in 1985. The death of one candidate, the unexpected surge of another and Rousseff's fierce efforts to claw back into the lead have contributed to a nail-biter election as uncertain as the course of the country itself.

Rousseff's main rivals are Marina Silva, a hero of the global conservation movement and ruling party defector now with the Brazilian Socialist Party, and Aecio Neves, a senator and former state governor from the centrist party that laid the groundwork for Brazil's economic boom over the last decade.

The two opposition candidates, in a last-minute sprint for runner-up, promise to return to the market-friendly economic policies that critics say Rousseff abandoned, especially strict budget and inflation targets. They also vow to restore order to big, state-run banks and companies that have been subject to political intervention and corruption scandals.

"There are two views of what this election is about. Some are more worried about the economy and others are more worried about social welfare," Diego Brigido, a 29-year-old engineer, said after casting his ballot in Rio de Janeiro. "I'm more worried about the economy."

Three polls on Saturday showed Neves, who trailed Silva for weeks, may have built up enough momentum in the final days to advance to a runoff against Rousseff.   Continuación...