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August 18, 2017

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Rio mayor re-elected, to oversee 2016 Olympics

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Riding a wave of support from Rio's slums, Eduardo Paes was re-elected mayor Sunday and now takes up the challenge of overseeing major infrastructure projects ahead of the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Paes, a member of the centrist Brazilian Democratic Movement Party backed by the ruling Workers Party, got 64.6 percent of the vote, easily defeating his ultra-leftist rival Marcelo Freixo with 28.1 percent.

"We are going to work together over the next four years," said the incumbent, whose party is a member of President Dilma Rousseff's ruling coalition.

In municipal elections seen as a key test ahead of presidential polls two years from now, some 139 million Brazilians were called upon to elect 5,561 mayors and 48,000 municipal councilors for four-year terms. Around 450,000 candidates represented more than 20 political parties.

The surprise came in Sao Paulo, where campaign frontrunner Celso Russomanno was shut out of the key mayoral race.

Opposition Brazilian Social Democratic Party candidate Jose Serra will face off against PT rival Fernando Haddad in a runoff vote scheduled for Oct. 28.

A second round will take place on the same day in cities with more than 200,000 people where no candidate secured an absolute majority.

With 99.6 percent of the votes officially counted, Serra, a former presidential candidate, had with 30.7 percent, against 29 percent for Haddad, who got the active support of Rousseff and ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Lula.

Russomanno, a populist ex-television consumer advocate backed by a powerful evangelical Christian church, finished third with only 21.5 percent.

He had led throughout the campaign, but his rivals closed the gap in recent days.

The PT and the PSDB are Brazil's two main parties and the post of Sao Paulo mayor is often seen as a stepping-stone for candidates with presidential aspirations.

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