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Silva Would Win Brazil Vote Against Rousseff, Poll Shows

Former Environment Minister Marina Silva would win Brazil’s presidency in runoff against incumbent Dilma Rousseff, according to an Ibope poll published today.

Silva has 45 percent of voters’ support in an Oct. 26 second round vote against Rousseff, who garners 36 percent, according to the Aug. 23-25 poll that surveyed 2,506 people. Silva is running second in the Oct. 5 first round with 29 percent of support versus Rousseff’s 34 percent. Senator Aecio Neves has 19 percent in the survey that has a margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points.

Silva, a 56-year-old former rubber tapper and dishwasher who made a name fighting deforestation in the Amazon, upended the October election after replacing Eduardo Campos, who died in a plane crash, as her party’s presidential candidate. She has adopted economic positions friendly to business leaders and investors and draws on her personal history to appeal to poorer Brazilians.

The polls “show a change in the political game,” Rafael Cortez, a political analyst at Sao Paulo-based research company Tendencias Consultoria Integrada, said in a telephone interview. “Now Dilma will have to tear down Marina.”

The Ibovespa erased earlier loses today, rising for a second consecutive day on speculation Rousseff’s re-election bid was loosing support. The Sao Paulo stock exchange gauge rose 2.3 percent yesterday and 0.1 percent today.

‘Big Loser’

In a Datafolha poll published last week, the first with Silva’s name on a ticket, she was statistically tied in second place with Neves from the Brazilian Social Democracy Party. Rousseff had 36 percent support in the first round, 15 percentage points more than Silva.

“Aecio is the big loser,” Andre Cesar, director at public policy and business strategy consultants Prospectiva, said in a phone interview from Brasilia. “He was in second place and close to qualifying for a runoff with Dilma. Today, the game changed.”

In both the Ibope and Datafolha polls, Rousseff has less support in the first round than the sum of the other 10 candidates she would need to avoid a runoff.

Silva represents an alternative to the two poles that have dominated Brazilian politics in the past two decades, Cortez said. Rousseff’s Workers’ Party has governed the country for almost 12 years. Fernando Henrique Cardoso, from Neves’s party, was the president in the previous eight years.

Street Protests

Silva’s popularity increased last year when more than 1 million Brazilians took to the streets to protest against government corruption, the rising cost of living, slower growth and government spending decisions, according to Tendencias’s Cortez. As a political outsider, she gained the protest vote, he said.

Silva’s campaign team has pledged to slow inflation to 3 percent from 6.5 percent last month by the end of 2018, support formal autonomy for the central bank and undo fiscal policies the led to a sovereign debt rating downgrade this year. On the social front, she said she would expand the government program that transfers money to poor families, known as Bolsa Familia.

The challenge for Silva is to persuade voters that she has the ability to lead the country, Christopher Garman, deputy head of research at Eurasia Group, wrote in a note to clients.

“It’s too early to conclude she has become a favorite to win,” Garman said, reiterating that Rousseff remains a “slight favorite.”

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