President Dilma Rousseff is fighting for her political survival after a new poll Monday showed her trailing rival Aecio Neves ahead of Brazil’s runoff presidential contest later this month. Rousseff’s sagging ratings come as Brazil’s once mighty economy has fallen into a technical recession and months after millions of Brazilians took to the streets in protest during the world Cup games to demand better infrastructure and health care.
Aecio leads Rousseff 52.4 percent to 36.7 percent in the Oct. 26 runoff, according to a Sensus poll published on the website of IstoE magazine. The survey of 2,000 people Oct. 7-10 had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points. Two earlier polls by Ibope and datafolha showed the candidates statistically tied, with Neves leading by 51 percent to 49 percent, according to Bloomberg.
Neves unexpectedly emerged as Rousseff’s main opponent after the Oct. 5 first-round election saw him win 34 percent of the vote behind the president’s 42 percent. Rousseff had expected to face Marina Silva of the Brazilian Socialist Party, but Silva ended up finishing in third place with 21 percent of the vote after a slew of attack ads painted her as inept.
Neves, a senator and former state governor, is considered the more business friendly candidate. His ratings were bolstered Sunday after Silva threw her support behind his campaign.
“It is not clear to what extent Ms. Silva’s supporters will follow her lead and now vote for Mr. Neves,” wrote David Rees, an emerging markets economist with Capital Economics. “Ms. Silva ran on the Socialist party ticket, while the PSDB is more a of centrist/centre-right party. And in any case, Mr. Neves would need to gain almost 80 percent of Ms. Silva’s votes to win a majority. If pushed, we would still expect the incumbent, Dilma Rousseff of the workers’ Party, to win re-election by a narrow margin later this month.”
Neves has vowed to embrace land reform, the demarcation of indigenous lands, the rights of rural communities and environmental concerns if elected. Silva’s campaign had outlined a similar platform.
Rousseff took office in 2001 with the endorsement of her popular predecessor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. He is a founding member of the Workers’ Party that helped lift millions of Brazilians out of poverty in recent years through social welfare programs.