So on January 1st Ms Rousseff will become Brazil’s next president, and its first female one. In the end, it was the poor and those in the less-developed northern regions who swung it her way. Richer and better-educated folk preferred Mr Serra, but Brazil has fewer of them.
Ms Rousseff now has some time before she must put together a government—but also the freedom to announce important appointments as soon as she wishes. Her choice of foreign minister will be a clue to whether she intends to rein back on Lula’s foreign-policy adventurism. And her pick for finance minister will show whether she is serious about getting public spending back under control. Despite a strong economy and galloping tax receipts, the government’s spending is rising even faster than its income. Under Lula, Brazil’s central bank was granted de facto independence over monetary policy, which means high interest rates to counter the government’s fiscal laxness—one of the root causes of Brazil’s over-valued currency. A strong, fiscally conservative appointment to the bank’s governership would reassure investors that the new president does not plan to intervene directly to push rates down.
Back in June, when campaigning kicked off, Lula told the nation that without him there would be a void on the ballot papers. He has stood in every presidential election since 1989. To fill that void, he said, he planned to change his name to Dilma Rousseff and run again. Brazilians will soon find out whether Ms Rousseff is her own woman, or just Lula in lipstick.