With Lula’s popularity soaring at about 80%, these are not good times to be opposition in Brazil. While the Brazilian ruling coalition presidential candidate Dilma Rousseff consolidates her lead in opinion polls and is almost certain to win in the first round October 3, her main rival José Serra’s campaign seems to have fallen in disarray.
In effect in his latest criticisms Serra claims that a government can’t be managed by remote control or “under instructions”, much less “outsourced”, trying to convince the electorate that who really is going to run the show if Ms Rousseff is elected is her mentor and protector president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
However this has been precisely the real message of Lula, the most popular Brazilian president in the last six decades, who has gone out of his way to tell the people that Ms Rousseff is the continuation and guarantee of his administration.
“She’s me, dressed as a woman” and “we must give women a chance” has on occasions said the Brazilian president in a permanent effort to convince the electorate that they can trust the lady bureaucrat, former minister and cabinet chief but with no electoral experience.
“A candidate can’t have two faces. Commands are not outsourced. It’s imaginative, creative to think Brazil can be ruled by Lula out of the government. That’s not possible”, said Serra, former governor of the state of São Paulo addressing representatives from manufacturing industries.
But the fact is that the latest public opinion poll released over the weekend showed Ms Rousseff further distancing herself from Serra having reached 51% vote intention, which automatically would avoid a run off at the end of October.
According to pollster Ibope, published Sunday by daily O Estado de S. Paulo, Rousseff has increased her advantage from 11 points in the previous poll August 16, to 24 points, with Serra skidding from 32% to 27%. Marina Silva from the Green Party remains in third place but her vote intention dropped from 8% to 7%.
Rousseff is even leading in Serra’s home state of São Paulo, which has the country’s largest electorate. She has 42% against 35% for Serra.
Rapid economic growth this year and promises to continue with the policies of Lula have helped increase Rousseff’s ratings. Her lead over Serra got a further boost since the campaign slots started on television this month that have linked her closely with Lula.
The ads have given many voters their first in-depth look at Rousseff, who was little known by the Brazilian public only a couple of months ago. She trailed Serra in the polls as recently as June. Sunday’s poll showed her getting 59% of valid votes once spoiled and blank ballots are discarded.
In Minas Gerais, considered a vital “swing” state and home to the country’s second largest electorate, Rousseff leads Serra by 51% to 25%, the poll showed.
Ibope interviewed 2,506 people for the poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.