By Benjamin Parkin, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – At the PSB (Brazilian Socialist Party) National Conference this weekend in Brasília, Governor of Pernambuco state Eduardo Campos formally announced his candidacy for President in October’s national elections. Marina Silva, of the Rede Sustentável (Sustainable Network), with whom the PSB struck an alliance nine months ago, will be candidate for Vice-President.
“Today completes nine months of our encounter… It is like the beauty of putting a new life into the world. I say now: this child has been born!” celebrated Marina at the conference. “We chose a challenging path,” said Campos of their alliance, “but the only coherent one.”
Along with the PSDB (Brazilian Social Democratic Party), who will field Governor of Minas Gerais Aécio Neves as their candidate, the PSB is the main threat to the governing PT (Workers’ Party). President Dilma Rousseff formalized her candidacy for re-election at the PT party conference last Saturday.
Campos emphasized the PSB’s anti-corruption message and contrasted themselves to their political rivals. “Let’s end with this draining! […] Let’s end these leeches of Brazilian purses,” he complained. “There are those who think that by using the same methods, the same routes, they will arrive at a different result. This is an error, a mistake, and the same route will lead to the same place.”
He also criticized the PT for claiming that other parties would end social projects such as Bolsa Família, the PT’s landmark social benefits and poverty reduction scheme. Dilma “preaches fear saying that rivals will end social programs such as Bolsa Família,” when in fact, he continued, the PSB will work to improve it by “ending corruption and patronage.”
Both Eduardo Campos and Marina Silva are former ministers in the PT government under ex-President Lula. Campos was made Science and Technology Minister by Lula in 2004, and has been Governor of Pernambuco since 2006. Marina Silva was a member of the PT and Environment Minister until 2009, when she left to run for the Green Party.
The two formed their alliance after the institutionalization of Marina’s grassroots Rede Sustentável was rejected, thereby not allowing them to field candidates for the elections. Joining the PSB was received controversially, with many supporters arguing that institutionalizing her candidacy within a mainstream political party would limit much of her grassroots popularity and appeal.
In a statement released last week, however, the Rede sought to appease these critics by emphasizing its distinction from the PSB. “The Rede and the PSB recognize that both are independent parties with their own identities which should be respected,” it read, and that each has political autonomy “without compromise.” The statement also highlighted that members of the Rede affiliated with the PSB already have a date when they will leave, which was outlined in their initial agreement.
Campos, from Recife, Pernambuco, was a Federal Deputy before becoming Governor in 2007. He is the grandson of Miguel Arraes, three time Governor of Pernambuco. Silva was born and raised in the state of Acre, in the Amazon jungle, in a community of rubber tappers, and came into politics through involvement as a union representative, campaigning against deforestation of the Amazon and the protection of the traditional communities living there. She is also an evangelical Christian.