Photo: Marina Silva
Marina Silva, the former environment minister who entered Brazil’s presidential contest only last week, poses a growing threat to incumbent Dilma Rousseff, poll results released Wednesday show.
Rousseff was the choice of 34.2 percent of respondents in the MDA survey, compared with 28.2 percent for Silva and 16 percent for erstwhile main challenger Aecio Neves.
A majority is needed for outright victory in the Oct. 5 contest and up until two weeks ago, Rousseff was expected to beat Neves in the likely runoff.
The new MDA poll indicates a second round pitting Rousseff against Silva would result in victory for the environmentalist, by 43.7 percent to 37.8 percent.
Silva became the Brazilian Socialist Party’s candidate following the Aug. 13 plane crash that claimed the life of the original standard-bearer, Eduardo Campos.
The former environment minister was Campos’ running mate.
Silva, an Afro-Brazilian and evangelical Christian who finished third in the 2010 presidential election as leader of the Green Party, joined the Socialists last September after she missed the deadline to create a new party of her own as a vehicle for another presidential run.
The MDA results are in line with those of other surveys conducted since the death of Campos, who was running at only 10 percent in the polls.
While spokespeople for the Rousseff and Neves campaigns say they expect the “Marina effect” to be short-lived, many political observers are beginning to think that Silva can win, unseating the Workers Party after 12 years in power.
Analysts note surveys showing that 35 percent of Brazilians have negative sentiments about Rousseff, while only 10 percent reject Silva.
The three candidates faced one another Tuesday night in the first of four planned presidential debates.
Silva, exuding confidence, stuck to her call for an end to the “old politics” she says are embodied by the Workers Party and Neves’ PSDB, which have dominated Brazil’s political scene for two decades.
Amid Silva’s surge in the polls, Globo TV and O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper reported Wednesday that questions have emerged about the ownership of Campos’ ill-fated campaign plane.
The listed owners of the Cessna Citation 560 XL used by Campos appear to be front companies with no business activities, the outlets said.
Silva served as environment minister for part of the 2003-2011 Workers Party government of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Rousseff’s political mentor.