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Brazil’s Green Party, Silva to Remain ‘Independent’ in Runoff

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Oct. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Marina Silva, Brazil’s third-place finisher in the first round of presidential elections, said she won’t support either of the Oct. 31 runoff candidates as her Green Party decided today to remain independent.

Members of the party are allowed to individually support Dilma Rousseff, a former cabinet chief and President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s choice, or opposition candidate Jose Serra, Sao Paulo’s former governor, Silva said during a speech in Sao Paulo.

“We’ll remain as mediators, not choosing a path doesn’t mean we are neutral,” Silva said while reading an open letter to party members. “Our being independent will favor the democracy and the debate about what matters to Brazil,” she told reporters afterwards.

Rousseff won 47 percent of the first-round vote on Oct. 3, compared with 33 percent for Serra and 19 percent for Silva, an evangelical Christian.

“By being independent, we want to push candidates to start adding to their agenda points that are precious to us, environmental issues, social matters,” Jose Luiz Penna, head of the Green Party, told reporters in Sao Paulo.

Silva’s ability to attract more votes than polls had predicted has led both campaigns to seek support among her backers. Fifteen representatives were elected from her party to the Lower House, out of 512 seats.

“This decision benefits Dilma Rousseff because an endorsement of Serra was expected,” David Fleischer, a political analyst at the University of Brasilia, said in a telephone interview. “Being independent means you can negotiate public policies on either side, no matter who wins.”

Shrinking Lead

Rousseff’s lead over Serra before the runoff fell to 6 percentage points last week from 7 percentage points on Oct. 8, a Datafolha poll published Oct. 15 showed.

Rousseff had 47 percent of support from voters, down from 48 percent in the Oct. 9 Datafolha survey. Serra remained at 41 percent, according to the poll commissioned by Folha de S. Paulo newspaper and Rede Globo television channel.

The latest survey interviewed 3,281 people and has a margin of error of 2 percentage points.

To contact the reporters on this story: Felipe Frisch in Sao Paulo at ffrisch1@bloomberg.net Maria Luiza Rabello in Brasilia at mrabello@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Goodman at jgoodman19@bloomberg.net

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