With less than two weeks to go to the Brazilian president runoff, legislator Aécio Neves appears to be increasingly likely that he will upset incumbent Dilma Rousseff.
Neves leads Rousseff 52.4% to 36.7% according to a Sensus poll of 2000 people that was released today. The double-digit advantage marks the first time Neves has been ahead in the polls since the October 4th first round of elections that Rousseff won but did not receive a majority that would’ve given her an outright victory. (A pair of surveys released last Thursday showed that he and Rousseff where in a statistical dead heat).
Six weeks ago, polls indicated that Neves would obtain a distant third place finish in the first round yet the former governor has enjoyed a recent surge in the polls. His representation as a candidate of one of Brazil’s most powerful opposition parties (PDSB) along with his campaign promises to combat corruption and improve the economy appear to resonate heavily with potential voters.
The Sensus poll was conducted last week prior to his endorsement from Marina Silva, the former environment minister who finished in third in the first round. Silva’s support could provide Neves with an even greater boost in the run-up to the runoff on the 26th of the month.
“From now on, we are one body, one project in favor of Brazil and the Brazilians,” declared Neves yesterday following the endorsement from Silva.
“I trust in the sincerity of the proposals of the candidate and his party, and I give to the Brazilian society the task to see that they are fulfilled,” said Silva whose economic campaign proposals were similar to Neves though both disagreed on gay marriage and marijuana legalization.
Aside from losing her lead in the polls, Rousseff faces other challenges such as a slumping economy and plummeting investor confidence in her policies. In addition, a new survey from Datafolha concluded that 6% of voters who backed the president in the first round would opt for Neves compared to 2% of his supporters who would jump ship for Rousseff.
Rousseff tried to downplay the Silva-Neves alliance by claiming that their economic proposals would jeopardize social programs that are popular among lower class Brazilians. She also attacked the governments under the PDSB led by ex-presidents Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Tancredo Neves (the father of the current PDSB candidate):
Those who are on my side represent a plan while those on the other represent another project. Do they remember what type economy (the PDSB) left behind? A country that went broke three times, an inflation rate of 25%, an unemployment rate of 11.5% (and) inflation of 12.5%. Unemployment at that time was double the current rate.Regardless of who wins the runoff later this month between the leftist Rousseff and centrist Neves, the next president will have to tackle a fractured federal legislature that is “the most conservative Congress in the post-1964 period.”
Video Source – AFP via YouTube
Online Sources – AS/COA; O Globo; Bloomberg; Folha.com; El Espectador; ABC News; International Business Times; The Latin Americanist