Brazil: Lula/Alckmin Gap Falls to 10 Points. Second Round Likely.

The certainty that Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will win reelection this coming October has vanished. For the first time a poll shows that Lula may not win hands down without a second round.

The new survey, by Vox Populi, reveals a narrower margin between the president and his closest opponent, Geraldo Alckmin, from the PSDB, the same party of former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso.

Since June when Vox Populi held its latest poll the percentage of those who intend to vote for Lula has fallen from 45% to 42%, while Alckmin stayed the course with 32% of the votes.

Senator Heloí­sa Helena (from the leftist PSOL party), another candidate, grew from 5% to 7% and Cristovam Buarque (PDT), another senator, also kept his humble 1%. The 10 point difference between the frontrunners is the smallest since the campaign for the October election started in earnest a few weeks ago.

The survey, paid for by monthly magazine Carta Capital, which will deliver the details of the inquiry in its pages, was done from July 8 to 10 and interviewed 2003 people in 121 municipalities all across Brazil.

The poll’s margin of error is 2.2% in either direction. 7% said they would void their votes while another 11% haven’t decided yet what to do.

Alckmin, the former governor of São Paulo state was delighted to hear the news. "The campaign hasn’t started yet and we already have the promise of a second round. This is happening because I am only known to 51% of the population." The candidate says that there’s still a lot of room for him to grow.

There was more good news for the PSDB candidate. The TSE (Tribunal Superior Eleitoral – National Election Board) announced that Alckmin will have more time than Lula in the free TV and radio time that all candidates are granted by the electoral justice. 

While Lula will have 7 minutes and 21 seconds in the 25-minute free programs, the ex-governor will get 10 minutes and 22 seconds in which to explain his platform to voters.

The programs start on August 15 and will be shown at 1 pm and prime time (8:30 pm), Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Buarque will be able to talk for 2 minutes and 23 seconds and Helena will have a mere 1 minute and 11 seconds. 

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