BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil, Oct 26, 2014 (AFP) - Aecio Neves, the center-right challenger who suffered a narrow election defeat Sunday to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, said he had called to congratulate her and urge unity after a divisive campaign.
"I congratulated the president just now on the phone and I wished her success for her second term," Neves told disappointed supporters in an address in Belo Horizonte, where he served two terms as governor of Minas Gerais state.
"I told her the priority should be to unite Brazil around a project of honesty that brings dignity to all Brazilians," added Neves, who fell short of ending 12 years of government by the leftist Workers' Party (PT).
"I fought the good fight, I fulfilled my mission and I kept the faith," he said.
The election divided Brazil between voters loyal to the PT for making landmark gains against poverty and those frustrated with corruption scandals, a recession and poor public education, health care and transport.
Neves, the business-world favorite, had vowed to rekindle economic growth with market-friendly policies.
He briefly led opinion polls after the October 5 first-round vote but fell behind in a campaign that at times descended into virulent personal attacks and split Brazilians along class lines.