Brazilians wait in line to enter a polling station in the Rocinha favela in Rio de Janeiro on the day of the presidential election on Oct. 5, 2014
Mario Tama—Getty Images
October 6, 2014 4:23 AM EDT

Brazil’s presidential election is headed for a runoff after incumbent President Dilma Rousseff took the top spot in the first-round on Sunday but failed to get the majority needed to win overall.

Rousseff, of the leftist Workers’ Party, won 41.4% of the vote in the tight race, riding the success of her social-welfare programs, the Guardian reports. She will duel with Aécio Neves, of Brazil’s pro-business Social Democratic party, who took 33.7% of the vote in a last-minute and unexpected surge.

The first round of the election closes an agonizing campaign season full of unexpected flips and flops, including one candidate’s death in a plane crash, another’s homophobic rant, and another candidate’s ties to a massive oil scandal.

The coming election — a squaring off between Brazil’s established left and the right — will be a disappointment to voters who had backed third candidate Marina Silva, a former Environment Minister who had at one point led the polls.

Rousseff is projected to win in the coming runoff, though Neves may further harness resentment toward the incumbent administration for continued sluggish economic growth, the New York Times reports. Silva may also choose to throw her weight behind Neves, the Guardian adds.

Write to Elizabeth Barber at

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