Brazilian voters electing a new president this weekend are being asked to decide what scares them least: the incumbent’s warnings about the “ghosts of the past,” or her challenger’s charges about the “monsters of the present.” The latest polls give left-leaning incumbent Dilma Rousseff a slight edge in Sunday’s runoff vote to lead the world’s fifth-largest nation. But few people are counting out centre-right challenger Aecio Neves after a topsy-turvy campaign that has been the most competitive, divisive and dramatic since Brazil’s return to democracy in 1985. “The country is divided in two, with half feeling that social inclusion and protections are what matter most, and the other half believing that macroeconomic stability is more important,” said Carlos Pereira, a political analyst at the Gertulio Vargas Foundation, Brazil’s leading think-tank . “The candidate who convinces voters he or she is best prepared to combine these two beliefs and make them complementary will win Sunday’s election.” The race turned dramatic after Eduardo Campos, a main opposition candidate, was killed when his campaign plane crashed in August. His running mate, renowned environmentalist Marina Silva, was thrust into his spot, and she immediately jumped to a double-digit lead over Rousseff and Neves. Silva initially tapped into the discontent over poor public services that millions of Brazilians expressed in anti-government protests last year, but her campaign never found its feet and voters drifted away from her within weeks. That opened the gap for Neves to stage his surprisingly strong showing in the Oct. 5 first-round vote, coming in second and forcing Rousseff into a runoff when her first-place finish didn’t get an absolute majority.
IT IS hard to make predictions, the old saying goes, especially about the future. When future involves Brazil’s presidential race, the first round of which takes place on October 5th, the task is harder still. That has not stopped number-crunchers trying. Neale El-Dash of PollingData.com.br, a website, has made a valiant attempt at “tropicalising” Nate Silver, a statistician and blogger who rose to stardom during the 2012 US election. Mr Silver took polls released each week, then aggregated and weighted them to come up with a prediction, framed in terms of probability of victory for the main contenders. Our chart shows how Brazilian hopefuls’ chances, calculated in a similar fashion by Mr El-Dash, have shaped up since the campaign was upended by the tragic death in a plane crash in mid-August of Eduardo Campos, a centrist candidate.
Brazil’s Socialist Party, whose dark-horse presidential candidate died in a plane crash last week, now has a chance of making it to a runoff and even winning the October election, a new poll showed on Monday. Barely a week ago, Marina Silva was a vice-presidential hopeful running with Eduardo Campos, who was polling a distant third with about 8% of the vote at the time of his death, leaving Ms. Silva poised to take his place at the top of the ticket. The survey by polling firm Datafolha showed Ms. Silva—whose candidacy hasn’t yet been officially announced by her party, but is widely expected in coming days—not only appears be a stronger candidate than Mr. Campos, but would have a viable shot at defeating incumbent President Dilma Rousseff of the leftist Workers’ Party in the event of a second-round runoff vote.