By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Less than five days from presidential elections in Brazil, incumbent President, Dilma Rousseff, has edged her way to the lead, ahead of Aecio Neves, 47 percent to 43 percent of the total votes, according to polling company, Datafolha.
On Monday another Datafolha poll showed Rousseff with 46 percent of the total votes and Neves with 43 percent. Valid votes, which exclude undecided voters, those who have decided to vote blank (for neither candidate) or annul their ballot, show Rousseff with 52 percent against Neves with 48 percent.
The opposition candidate, however, disregarded the latest results saying that these surveys were ‘extremely erroneous’. “From what we saw in the first round of elections, these Datafolha polls already have me elected,” joked Neves on Tuesday at a campaign rally in Mato Grosso do Sul. “If the reference is that one (Datafolha) then I already am the country’s next President.”
Poll results on the eve of the first round of elections (October 5th) showed Neves in third place, considerably behind second-placed candidate Marina Silva of the PSB (Socialist Party). In the final tally, however, Neves received 33.55 percent while Silva only obtained 21.32 percent of the votes.
Although the latest voter poll, conducted on Tuesday, (October 21st) shows that the Rousseff, from the PT (Workers Party) is numerically ahead of the opposition PSDB (Social Democracy Party) candidate, the two presidential hopefuls are still technically tied, since polls have a margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points.
In this scenario, say analysts, the ten percent of undecided voters and blank/null votes could decide who will become the country’s next president. Another surprise seen on Monday’s survey is the fact that Neves’ rejection rate is seen as higher than Rousseff. A survey conducted Monday (October 20th) shows that forty percent of those interviewed said they would ‘never’ vote for Neves, while 39 percent said they would ‘never’ vote for Rousseff.
Encouraged by the latest polls, President Rousseff continued to criticize the PSDB party and its handling of the water shortage in São Paulo state. “We were able to face and live with the drought. We know that the dry spell is coming and we are prepared for it,” said Rousseff during a campaign rally in Pernambuco state.
“The richest state in Brazil, the state of São Paulo, was not prepared for the drought,” she told a cheering crowd. The PT has severely condemned the way São Paulo state governor, Geraldo Alckmin (PSDB) has handled the water shortage, pointing out that if contingency plans had been made the population would not have to suffer with water-rationing programs now.
PSDB officials, on the other hand, have criticized the manner in which the current administration has handled the Petrobras corruption scandal, the current increase of inflation and the country’s stagnant economic situation. Analysts believe that the last television debate, scheduled for Friday (October 24th) will be decisive to sway those undecided votes and those who are contemplating voting in blank or annulling their ballots.