Brazil's southeastern state of São Paulo governor José Serra and main reference of the opposition leads comfortably in public opinion polls for next year's presidential election in Brazil when the successor of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is to be chosen.
According to pollster DataFolha, Serra has a vote intention of 37% followed by cabinet chief Dilma Rousseff, 16% – Lula's handpicked candidate – and former governor Ciro Gomes, with 15%. If elections were held this week in Brazil, Serra would win but not with the 50% needed to avoid a run-off. Brazilian elections are scheduled for October 2010, and the run-off in November.
Compared to the same poll three months ago, Serra was down one point while Rousseff remained stable. The difference between the two main candidates reached 35 percentage points in March 2008, when Rousseff was first mentioned. The difference dropped to 22 percentage points last March and 21 percentage points this month.
Serra, former Health minister, an important ally of former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso and one of the main leaders of the opposition was defeated by Lula in 2002.
Rousseff is a former guerrilla who fought against the Brazilian military dictatorship (1964-1985) was handpicked by Lula to succeed him and accepted by the ruling Workers Party. Although she still has to confirm her aspirations she is openly promoted by Lula in official events and political rallies.
Gomes who is also a former presidential candidate is currently a deputy from the Brazilian Socialist Party, which is part of the ruling coalition, and therefore has not made any official move yet.
Behind Gomes comes Heloísa Helena Lima, with 12%, from the radical left, a former member of the Workers Party that abandoned Lula when he embraced ultra orthodox economic policies. Lima founded the Socialist Liberty Party and proved a formidable candidate who in the 2006 presidential election garnered 15 million votes.
Marina Silva, a former militant of the Workers Party and ex Environment Minister follows with 3% support. She has been invited by the Green party (environmentalists) to join them and run as their presidential candidate. Of very humble origins she only learnt to read and write at the age of 14 and leads a very austere life contrary to her peers in the Brazilian Senate.