Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva continues favored to be reelected this Sunday, October 1st, but his lead over rivals fell 13 percentage points in just 10 days, according to a survey published Saturday.
The results show that, although by a small difference, Lula can still be sure of reelection without the runoff election scheduled for Oct. 29 in case none of the candidates achieves more than half of the vote.
Nonetheless, the now exiguous difference between the president and his rivals, as well as the margin of error of 2.2 percentage points in the poll, show for the first time that the next president may not be defined until after a runoff.
According to Vox Populi, Lula’s voter preference fell from 51 percent in the survey taken 10 days ago to 46 percent this week, while his chief adversary, the Social Democrat Geraldo Alckmin jumped from 27 to 33 percent during the same period.
Sen. Heloísa Helena, candidate of the Marxist Party of Socialism and Liberty (PSOL), gained ground over the past 10 days, during which time her voter preference went from 6 to 7 percent.
Sen. Cristovam Buarque of the Democratic Labor Party (PDT) held on to the 1 percent he had in the previous poll, and is now tied with businesswoman Ana Maria Rangel of the Progressive Republican Party (PRP), also with 1 percent.
Vox Populi also took a survey simulating an eventual runoff election, according to which Lula would triumph with 50 percent of the vote, compared with Alckmin’s 39 percent.
Vox Populi polled 2,000 voters in 129 municipalities.
The head of state’s eroded popularity was attributed by Vox Populi analysts to the negative effect of Lula’s decision not to take part in a debate with the other candidates last Thursday, despite the fact that it was the only time during the campaign that all the hopefuls would have faced voters together.
Also blamed was the growing loss of support caused by the scandal involving militants of Lula’s governing Workers Party (PT), two of whom were caught red-handed on September 15 with close to 1.7 million reais (some US$ 800,000) in U.S. and Brazilian currency as they were about to purchase a dossier allegedly implicating the president’s main challenger in acts of corruption.
Seven PT members have been implicated thus far in the scandal known as "dossiergate," including a personal adviser to Lula and the party’s president, Ricardo Berzoini, who was replaced as Lula’s campaign manager.
Brazilian dailies on Saturday prominently featured photos of stacks of that money that were supposedly stolen from the office of the police commissioner investigating the case and which were leaked to the press Friday. Several PT leaders accused the opposition of buying the photographs from corrupt police officials in an effort to discredit Lula’s campaign.
Thumbnails of the top 3 Brazilian presidential candidates:
President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, 60, a fifth-grade dropout and lathe-operator turned labor leader, has abandoned much of the leftist rhetoric of his last presidential campaign and adhered to fiscal austerity and market-friendly policies. Elected in 2002, Silva became Brazil’s first president from the working class. His administration has been tarnished by corruption scandals linked to Silva’s Workers’ Party and campaign aides, but Silva still draws strong support from legions of poor who receive monthly government subsidies.
* Geraldo Alckmin, 53, is a conservative, pragmatic and business-friendly politician who favors reducing taxes and lowering interest rates to spur economic growth. A fervent Catholic and an anesthesiologist by trade, the soft-spoken, bespectacled Alckmin helped found the Brazilian Social Democracy Party in 1994 and was elected governor of São Paulo, Brazil’s richest and most populous state, in 2002.
* Heloísa Helena Lima de Moraes Carvalho, 44, is known for her sharp tongue and for wearing jeans and T-shirts to work as a senator. She has attracted a substantial protest vote that could help force a second-round vote between the two top candidates. Once a student militant under the Brazil’s military dictatorship, Helena was expelled from the Workers’ Party in 2003 after criticizing Silva’s departure from leftist policies and helped found the new Socialism and Liberty Party