By Sibel Tinar, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Months of campaigning for the presidential contest come to an end this week with Dilma Rousseff and José Serra arriving in Rio to meet their supporters. With just days to go until the final votes on October 31st, both candidates have turned their attentions to the more industrialized and populous Southeastern states of the country; Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Minas Gerais.
With 56 million voters, these not only constitute close to half of the country’s eligible ballots, but are also home to the majority of those who voted for Marina Silva in the first round of elections, whose votes are now up for grabs following her elimination.
Given that Marina Silva has declared neutrality in choosing not to endorse either of the candidates, the principles she espouses have become key issues of debate for Dilma and Serra as they seek to pick up her votes.
It appears, however, that both Dilma and Serra have acknowledged the inevitability that one candidate’s move towards Silva’s policies would immediately be repeated by the other, and they have opted for not making unrealistic promises too ambitious to keep.
In their recent meetings with environmental specialists, both have chosen to play it safe by agreeing with their views, but refusing to sign any documents that would require long-term commitment.
With Brazil’s electoral law forbidding campaigning in the last two days before the votes are cast, the candidates only have until the end of Thursday to appeal to the swing voters and the undecided, who made up over twenty percent of the votes in the first round, and whose support is the key to secure a victory for either candidate.
Dilma has been slowly increasing her lead according to the latest opinion polls, with around fifty percent of voter intentions against Serra’s forty percent, but it would be unwise to declare an early victory given the rapidly changing nature of Brazilian politics and voter support.
The outcome of this perpetual uncertainty was clearly demonstrated in the first round of elections, in which Dilma only secured 46.9 percent of the votes, despite the predictions of earlier polls that she was headed for a single round win with a support well over fifty percent.
Once the votes are counted and the next president of Brazil is declared on the night of October 31st, the political climate of Brazil is bound to change dramatically, with the main source of debate being whether the new president will be able to fill current president Lula’s shoes, and effectively take charge in leading one of the world’s most dynamic and rapidly developing countries.
As for the rest of Brazil’s residents, the end of the election season will primarily mean an abrupt end to the incessant campaigning that not only dominated the media for the past four months, but also filled the streets with posters, flyers, and stickers. Even though it is safe to assume that the clean-up of the campaigning materials might take a while, there is no doubt that with its increasing temperatures and inviting beaches, the Cidade Maravilhosaa will easily transition into its festive, summer spirit.