By Sibel Tinar, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In an official declaration on Sunday, October 17th, Marina Silva, the ex- presidential candidate from Partido Verde (PV, Green Party) eliminated in the first round of presidential elections, announced her decision to remain neutral in the run-off, slimming the possibility of her dramatically influencing the final outcome on October 31st.
Leading up to the run-off round in which Dilma Rousseff (PT) will be facing José Serra (PSDB) on October 31st, Silva, who surprised the nation by securing nineteen percent of the votes, held the power to change the dynamic of the race had she chosen to endorse either candidate.
Polls ahead of the face-off between Dilma and Serra foresee a close race between the candidates, with the most recent, by Datafolha, showing Dilma with 47 percent, only six points ahead of Serra on 41 percent.
Given Dilma’s 46.9 percent of the votes in the first round against Serra’s 32.6 percent, the lack of significant increase in her support base indicates a swing of followers from Silva to Serra, but the PV’s decision to remain neutral now makes a last-minute surge in Serra’s favor less likely.
While the results of the first round were a disappointment for Dilma, the clear beneficiary of current president Lula’s historic popularity, it was a small victory for Marina Silva, who was only expected to secure around ten percent of the votes, as well as for PV, which elected fifteen federal and 37 state deputies.
At Sunday’s PV convention in São Paulo, where the members of the party cast votes to reach a collective decision on whether to support a final candidate, only four of the 120 members voiced their support to either Dilma or Serra.
Even Fernando Gabeira, one of the founders of PV who lost the race for governorship of Rio de Janeiro state to Sérgio Cabral by a wide margin and who had aligned himself with José Serra for the first round, has now declared independence from the candidate and his party.
Marina Silva read an open letter during the convention, criticizing the ongoing disputes between Dilma and Serra that advocate “mutual annihilation”, and lead to a “destructive duality” between PT and PSDB, adding that, “The aggressiveness of their clash for the sake of power chokes the construction of a policy of peace.”
Guilherme Leal, the ex-vice presidential candidate from PV, clarified the party’s position of neutrality by naming it “independence”, and assuring that the members of the party will be acting collectively. “Our position of independence is a generous platform,” Leal said, “so that whichever candidate gets elected, we can continue to act in a critical and collaborative manner.”