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  HOME | Brazil (Click here for more)

Marina Silva Poised to Shake Up Brazil’s Presidential Race

RIO DE JANEIRO – Marina Silva, the environmentalist widely tipped to replace the late Eduardo Campos as the presidential candidate of the Brazilian Socialist Party, would outpoll the current main challenger to incumbent Dilma Rousseff, a survey released Monday shows.

Support for Silva, an Afro-Brazilian who finished third in the 2010 presidential election as leader of the Green Party, came in at 21 percent, compared with 36 percent for Rousseff and 20 percent for Aecio Neves, polling firm Datafolha said.

Datafolha surveyed 2,843 voters at the end of last week.

Polls taken before Campos’ death last Wednesday in a plane crash had him in third place, with only 10 percent.

Silva, who only joined the Socialists last September after she missed the deadline to create a new party of her own as a vehicle for another presidential bid, was Campos’ running mate.

A majority is needed for outright victory in the Oct. 5 contest and most analysts were expecting a runoff between Rousseff and Neves.

Datafolha asked respondents about two hypothetical second-round duels: one pitting Rousseff against the former environment minister; the other a contest between Neves and the incumbent.

The responses indicate Silva would prevail over Rousseff by 46 percent to 43 percent, while the current president would beat Neves by a margin of 47 percent to 39 percent.

Comparison of the latest results with those of previous polls points to considerable support for Silva among previously undecided voters and people who said they planned to cast blank ballots.

The Socialists Party leadership is due to meet in Brasilia this week to decide who should replace Campos on the ballot.

Antonio Campos, brother of Eduardo and a member of the party’s national executive, said last Friday that Silva is “now the only figure who can promote a political change” in Brazil.

But Silva has given no indication of her intentions.

The poll results were published a day after nearly 100,000 people gathered in the northeastern city of Recife to pay their final respects to Eduardo Campos.

The mourners included Rousseff, Neves, Marina Silva and former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Marina Silva, 56, grew up poor in Amazonia. She is a former rubber tapper and comrade of murdered environmental crusader Chico Mendes.

The evangelical Christian twice won election to Brazil’s Senate and served from 2003-2008 as environment minister in the administration of Lula, Rousseff’s predecessor and political mentor.

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