By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The last voter intention polls conducted by Datafolha and Ibope before Sunday’s Presidential elections give Brazil’s incumbent President Dilma Rousseff of the PT (Workers Party) a slight lead over PSDB (Social Democracy Party) candidate Aecio Neves. Datafolha has Rousseff with 52 percent of the valid votes against Neves’ 48 percent.
The Ibope poll has Rousseff with 53 percent of the valid votes against Neves’ 47 percent. Datafolha’s poll shows that ten percent of voters will vote blank, annul their votes or are still undecided. Ibope shows that eight percent of voters will not vote for either candidate or have not yet decided who to vote for.
Saturday, October 25th was marked by last ditch efforts by supporters from both parties to win over undecided voters. In the city of São Paulo, a campaign rally with 2,500 PSDB sympathizers closed one of the city’s most important roads, Avenida Paulista.
In São Bernardo do Campo, in the São Paulo Metropolitan region, the PT held a rally with hundreds of party militants showing their support for Dilma Rousseff. In other cities militants from both parties took to the streets in peaceful rallies.
Sunday will put an end to one of the most turbulent presidential campaigns the country has ever seen. In August, the race took a dramatic turn when third-placed candidate, Eduardo Campos, was killed in an airplane accident while campaigning in São Paulo. Campos’ death led former Environment Minister, Marina Silva to make headlines around the world.
In September, Silva skyrocketed to first place, ahead of Rousseff at the polls. Dropping to second place weeks before the first round of elections on October 5th, Silva surprised analysts by placing third place behind Aecio Neves. Neves started campaigning for the second round of elections with polls showing him numerically ahead of Rousseff. In the past week, however, the candidates’ positions were reversed, with Rousseff leading the race by a slim margin.
The past few weeks the presidential campaign was also marked by accusations by both sides of corruption and mismanagement in the current and past administrations. During televised debates allegations of wrongdoing and mishandling of public funds were made by the two candidates.
PT officials have implied that if Neves wins the PSDB will reduce social welfare programs, while Neves has accused the Rousseff administration of not doing enough to control inflation and encourage economic growth.
One of the most violent demonstrations in this campaign occurred on Friday night (October 24th) when approximately two hundred protesters threw trash and spray-painted the front of Abril Publishing Company after the company’s weekly news magazine Veja published a story saying that both Rousseff and former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva knew about the money-laundering scheme taking place at Petrobras. Both candidates publicly condemned the vandalism.
Today, on Sunday, October 26, 2014, 142.8 million eligible voters will elect Brazil’s next president. Residents from thirteen states as well as the nation’s capital, Brasilia, will also vote for their state governor.