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.
Brazil is on tenterhooks. With five days to go before the presidential run-off on October 26th the race remains too close to call. But for the first time since the first round of voting two weeks ago the left-wing incumbent, Dilma Rousseff, has gained ground. On October 20th a poll by Datafolha put Ms Rousseff four points ahead of Aécio Neves, her centre-right challenger; last week Mr Neves was leading by a whisker. Perhaps it was only a matter of time. Ms Rousseff’s campaign, as cynical as it is formidable, has relentlessly (and unfairly) bashed the market-friendly Mr Neves for wanting to slash social programmes and govern solely for the rich elite. It has also attacked his record as governor of Minas Gerais, a big state which has just elected a governor from Ms Rousseff’s Workers’ Party (PT) and where she beat Mr Neves in the first round (in part because the opposition vote was split between him and Marina Silva, a charismatic centrist who came third overall). “People who know Aécio don’t vote for him,” blare PT television ads, conveniently omitting to mention that whenever Mr Neves himself stood for elected office in Minas, he strolled to victory.
Brazil’s most unpredictable presidential election in a generation is heading toward a photo finish on Oct. 26 between leftist incumbent Dilma Rousseff and pro-business challenger Aecio Neves, a new poll showed on Wednesday. In an increasingly acrimonious campaign, the candidates traded accusations of lies, corruption and nepotism in a bruising television debate on Tuesday night that had no clear winner and saw more attacks than discussion of policy issues. Neves, the market favorite, has gained ground since his stronger-than-expected showing in the first-round vote on Oct. 5, when he bested environmentalist Marina Silva to place second behind Rousseff. But Neves has struggled to build on that momentum and has been running neck-and-neck with Rousseff in opinion polls for the last week.
The former front-runner in Brazil’s presidential campaign shook up the race again Thursday when she unexpectedly withheld an endorsement for center-right candidate Aecio Neves, who is challenging incumbent Dilma Rousseff. Marina Silva had turned the race on its head this summer when she stepped in to take the place of the Socialist Party candidate, who was killed in a plane crash. After a brief reign as front-runner, she was reduced to the role of spoiler when she finished third in the election’s first round, on Sunday. But on Thursday, she appeared to step back from even that position when she canceled plans to announce an endorsement, which had been expected to be for Neves. She said she needed more commitments from the candidate, who will take on Rousseff in an Oct. 16 runoff.
“President Dilma Rousseff emerged on Sunday as the front-runner in one of the most tightly contested presidential elections since democracy was re-established in Brazil in the 1980s,” reports Simon Romero for The New York Times. However, “she failed to win a majority of the vote, opening the way for a runoff with Aécio Neves, the pro-business scion of a powerful political family.” What’s so special about this election? Well, whoever wins will be running what was, until recently, “Latin America’s colossus,” according to David Biller of Bloomberg View. “Brazil’s economic growth has slowed to its weakest three-year pace in a decade, advancing just 2.1 percent on average from 2011 through 2013,” he explains. “In the first half of 2014, it entered technical recession. The currency has fallen 33 percent since President Dilma Rousseff rose to power in 2011. Business confidence in July reached the lowest level in more than a decade. Sovereign debt was downgraded on March 24 for the first time in that period.”
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.