BRASILIA – Environmentalist Marina Silva appeared on Friday to be the Brazilian Socialist Party’s most likely choice to fill the void left by the death of presidential nominee Eduardo Campos in a plane crash earlier this week.
Despite its name, the party – known by the Portuguese initials PSB – is centrist and Campos was a business-friendly state governor was deep roots in the Brazilian elite.
Silva, an Afro-Brazilian who finished third in the 2010 presidential election as the candidate of the Green Party, is left of center and her decision to accept a position as Campos’ running mate surprised many.
The PSB leadership will meet in Brasilia next week to decide who should replace Campos on the ballot for the Oct. 5 contest, lawmaker Luiz Gonzaga Patriota said.
“All the Socialists will support Marina,” he said.
The tragic death of Campos, 49, prompted incumbent President Dilma Rousseff and main challenger Aecio Neves to temporarily suspend their campaigns.
The latest polls taken before the deadly plane crash showed Campos with support from 10 percent of likely voters, trailing Rousseff, at 38 percent, and Neves, with 23 percent.
Silva, who took 20 percent of the vote in 2010, only joined the PSB last September, after missing the deadline to create a new party of her own as a vehicle for another presidential bid.
Antonio Campos, brother of Eduardo and a member of the PSB national leadership, said 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, remaining in seclusion since an emotional press conference on Wednesday in the wake of Eduardo Campos’ death.
The 56-year-old Silva, who grew up poor in Amazonia, is a former rubber tapper and comrade of murdered environmental crusader Chico Mendes.
She twice won election to Brazil’s Senate and served from 2003-2008 as environment minister in the administration of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Rousseff’s predecessor and political mentor.