The campaign for Brazil’s October presidential election was officially launched this Tuesday, July 6. It started with a polarized scenario and the two main candidates, government-backed Dilma Rousseff and opposition hopeful José Serra virtually even in vote intention, according to the latest public opinion polls.
The election for the successor of Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the most popular leader in Brazil since Getúlio Vargas in the fifties, promises to be the most hard-fought in recent history and the first since 1989 in which the former union leader is not running.
Lula, whose support stands at 80%, took office January 1st, 2003, was re-elected in October 2006 but is barred constitutionally from a third consecutive mandate.
The president handpicked as his political heir Dilma Rousseff, 62, an economist with a guerrilla past who performed as Mines and Energy minister and later cabinet chief. Named the ‘Iron Lady’ of Lula’s administration she is known for her tough character and has never run for an elected post.
Rousseff has the support of Lula’s Workers Party and most other parties that make up the ruling coalition, mainly the Brazilian Democratic Movement party, PMDB, who named Michel Temer as her running companion in the presidential ticket.
The opposition has chosen José Serra, former governor and mayor of São Paulo, former Planning and Health minister under ex President Fernando Cardoso (1995/2003), who as presidential candidate was defeated by Lula in October 2002. Serra belongs to the Brazilian Social Democracy party (PSDB) and counts with the support of other minority parties.
The latest opinion polls anticipate a tough fight vote for vote with both candidates showing a support of 40%.
A distant third is environmentalist Marina Silva from the Green Party and former Environment minister in Lula’s cabinet for six years, who abandoned the Workers Party after thirty years militancy over differences with Rousseff over ‘aggressive development plans’ for the Amazon.
Ms Silva has a vote intention of 10%, which makes her crucial for any runoff since none of the two main candidates is forecasted to manage the 50% plus one vote next 3 October. Another nine candidates only account for less than 2% of vote intention.