By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – The untimely death last week of presidential hopeful, Eduardo Campos, from the PSB (Socialist Party) has shaken up this year’s presidential election just seven weeks before the first round of voting – scheduled for October 5th.
The replacement of Campos by his running mate, Marina Silva (to be officially confirmed on Wednesday) has changed the dynamics of Brazil’s presidential race with political analysts revising their calculations.
In its assessment of the new scenario, emerging market analysts at Capital Economics state “Mr. Campos was trailing a distant third in the polls and, while most observers expected him to pick up support as the campaign unfolded, he lacked a profile beyond his native Pernambuco state, where he was governor. Ms. Silva, in contrast, already has a national profile. She claimed twenty percent of vote in the first round of the 2010 election.”
A poll taken by Datafolha after Campos’ death, with Silva as the PSB candidate, already puts the former environment minister in second place with 21 percent of the votes, ahead of Aecio Neves of the PSDB (Social Democracy Party). The poll shows incumbent President Dilma Rousseff of the PT (Workers Party) with 36 percent of voter intention.
For Guilherme Casarões, Professor of International Relations at Fundação Getulio Vargas (CPDOC-FGV), it is still too early to say if this latest poll reflects a recall of Silva’s voting potential before she was announced as Campos’ running mate or the commotion of the candidate’s death. “What we do see is that many of those undecided voters and those who had stated that they would invalidate their votes now say they will vote for Silva,” notes Casarões.
As for which two candidates are likely to go to a second-round of voting in late October, many analysts now say that it could be a race between Rousseff and Silva. “Silva has more potential to go to the second-round against Rousseff,” says Casarões, adding that Silva is likely to get additional votes until the race from those PT voters frustrated by recent government scandals and those who would not vote, under any circumstance, for Neves.
According to Capital Economics, “Neves’ hopes that he could stand as the “anyone but Dilma” candidate in a run-off have been dashed,” and that Silva could actually succeed in taking over that position. For the consultancy the latest poll suggest that Silva would win with 47 percent of votes in a run-off against Rousseff, who would get 43 percent.
Despite the turbulence seen in the campaign so far, for Professor Casarões the decisive factor for this year’s election will be the TV and radio political campaigns, which started on Tuesday (August 19th). “We should not see great surprises from now on. The TV and radio campaigns are now likely to be a decisive factor in this election.” According to complicated party alliance calculations, the PT will have greater airtime than the PSDB or the PSB.
Silva’s first attempt at the presidency occurred in 2010, as the PV (Green Party) candidate, and surprised many by coming in third with a high number of votes. That year Rousseff won after a second-round runoff vote, which happens when candidates who do not receive a majority of votes in the initial round.