Tancredo de Almeida Neves, SFO more commonly Tancredo Neves In 1984, he was one of the leaders of the Diretas Já movement that demanded direct elections for President of Brazil. Neves was the opposition candidate to succeed President João Baptista de Oliveira Figueiredo. During the Presidential campaign, he said if he got 500,000 votes from his party, not even God would keep him from the Presidency. He did get the votes, but could not become President. On January 15, 1985, Neves was elected President by a majority of the Electoral College. However, on March 14, on the last day of his predecessor's term and on the eve of his own inauguration, Neves became severely ill, requiring immediate surgery. He thus was not able to attend his own inauguration on March 15. The Constitution required the President and Vice-President elect to take oaths of office before the assembled National Congress. The inauguration was accordingly held for the Vice-President only, the Vice-President immediately assumed the powers of the presidency as Acting President. At that time, there was still hope that Neves would recover and appear before Congress to take the oath of office. However, Neves suffered from abdominal complications and developed generalized infections. After seven operations, Neves died on April 21, more than one month after the beginning of his term of office, without ever having taken the oath of office as President. He was succeeded by José Sarney. Neves's ordeal was intensively covered by the Brazilian media and followed with anxiety by the whole nation, who had seen in him the way out of the authoritarian regime into what he had called a "New Republic" (Nova República). His death caused an outpouring of national grief. Tancredo Neves is counted among the official list of presidents of Brazil as a matter of homage and honour, since, not having taken the oath of office, he technically never became President. An Act of Congress was thus necessary to make this homage official. Accordingly on the first anniversary of his death, a statute was signed into law declaring that he should be counted among the Presidents of Brazil.