BRASILIA – The Brazilian Socialist Party named former Environment Minister Marina Silva as its candidate for the Oct. 5 presidential election, replacing Eduardo Campos, who died last week in a plane crash.
“I thank God for helping us through the difficult crossing represented by the loss of our candidate, of our leader,” Silva, an evangelical Christian, said in accepting the party’s nomination at an assembly in Brasilia.
A poll taken after Campos’ death indicated that Silva, an Afro-Brazilian who finished third in the 2010 presidential election as leader of the Green Party, could pose a serious obstacle to President Dilma Rousseff’s bid for a second four-year term.
“I carry the weight of the responsibility and a commitment to everything built under the leadership of Eduardo Campos,” Silva said, vowing to make no changes to the party’s platform.
The nominee, who only 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, was Campos’ running mate.
The party, known by the Portuguese initials PSB, agreed on Silva after three days of consultations that began on Sunday, following Campos’ funeral in the northeastern city of Recife.
Luiz Roberto “Beto” Albuquerque, a federal congressman and member of the PSB’s national executive, was selected as Silva’s running mate.
Invoking one of Campos’ slogans, Albuquerque asked Brazilian voters to “wipe the old politics off the map” when they go to the polls in October.
Survey results released Monday showed Silva with support from 21 percent of registered voters, compared with 36 percent for Rousseff and 20 percent for erstwhile main challenger Aecio Neves.
Pollster Datafolha interviewed 2,843 voters at the end of last week.
Polls taken before Campos’ death in the Aug. 13 plane crash had him in third place, with only 10 percent.
A majority is needed for outright victory in the Oct. 5 contest and most analysts were expecting a runoff between Rousseff and Neves.
Datafolha asked respondents about two hypothetical second-round duels: one pitting Rousseff against the former environment minister; the other a contest between Neves and the incumbent.
The responses indicate Silva would prevail over Rousseff by 46 percent to 43 percent, while the current president would beat Neves by a margin of 47 percent to 39 percent.
Comparison of the latest results with those of previous polls points to considerable support for Silva among previously undecided voters and people who said they planned to cast blank ballots.