Silva to Push Brazil to Runoff in Election Too Close to Call

Marina Silva would push Brazil’s election to a runoff in a vote that would be too close to call, according to the first poll since presidential candidate Eduardo Campos died in a plane crash last week.

Silva, who is set to replace Campos as the candidate of the Brazilian Socialist Party this week, would command 47 percent of the vote in the second round, compared with 43 percent for Dilma Rousseff, a difference that falls within the plus or minus 2 percentage point margin of error in a Datafolha poll published today. In the first round, Silva is statistically tied with Senator Aecio Neves with 21 percent and 20 percent of the support respectively.

Silva, 56, became the wild card in Brazilian politics after Campos died. She came third in the 2010 national election against Rousseff with 19 percent of the vote as the Green Party’s candidate. She was Campos’s running mate.

“This is political capital that Marina already had and wasn’t able to transfer to Eduardo Campos,” Mauro Paulino, director of Datafolha, said in a phone interview. “She is a well known candidate with a low level of rejection. And that signals she has room to grow.”

The Ibovespa rose for a third day after Datafolha poll confirmed speculation Silva’s candidacy would increases chances of a run-off. The Sao Paulo stock exchange gauge rose 1.22 percent at 2:53 p.m. local time, and the real gained 0.1 percent to 2.2580 per U.S. dollar.

Narrow Lead

Rousseff leads the first round with 36 percent support, less than the 46 percent garnered by all her challengers, the survey of 2,843 people conducted Aug 14-15 shows. To win in the first round a candidate needs more votes than all other competitors combined. In a run-off against Neves from the Brazilian Social Democracy Party, Rousseff would win 47 percent to 39 percent.

With Silva running there is a 99 percent chance of a second round, Joao Augusto de Castro Neves, Latin America analyst for political risk analysis firm Eurasia Group, said in a phone interview. Eurasia maintains its call that gives Rousseff a 55 percent chance of winning the election, Castro Neves said, adding that Neves and Silva have an even chance of passing to the second round.

“She gained the votes that belonged to Campos and attracted many of the undecided,” Castro Neves said. “Now she enters hard-ball politics,” and will face more scrutiny from voters.

Party Meeting

Senator Rodrigo Rollemberg said Silva will replace Campos as the Brazilian Socialist Party candidate, and the party’s executive board will meet in Brasilia Aug. 20 to make the decision official.

“It’s decided. It will be Marina,” Rollemberg, an executive member of the Brazilian Socialist Party, or PSB, said in an interview. Lawmaker Beto Albuquerque is favored to be her running mate, he said.

Campos, four members of his campaign team and two pilots died Aug. 13 when a Cessna 560XL crashed in the southeastern city of Santos. Silva stood beside Campos’s family as his remains were buried yesterday in Recife, the capital of Pernambuco where he was governor until April. Rousseff and Neves were among thousands of mourners who attended the wake and funeral Mass.

Campos had 8 percent support in a Datafolha poll conducted July 15-16. Rousseff had 36 percent and Neves 20 percent.

Now Certain

Neves said a second round is now certain, and the results of the poll were absolutely expected, according to a transcript sent by e-mail by his campaign team of comments he made today in Rio de Janeiro.

Campos’s and Silva’s economic adviser, Eduardo Giannetti, said in a May interview Brazil needs to rein in spending and increase interest rates at the outset of the next government to help ease inflationary pressure.

Silva is remembered by investors and some business people as a candidate who committed in 2010 to orthodox fiscal and monetary policy that she would leave in the hands of ministers with top-level expertise, Citigroup Inc. analyst Stephen H. Graham wrote in an Aug. 13 report.

Silva would support central bank autonomy to implement monetary policy, Walter Feldman, a spokesman for Silva, said in an interview yesterday. He said her allies are still debating whether a law granting the bank’s board formal independence is needed.

Rubber Trees

Silva spent her childhood tapping rubber trees in the Amazon rain forest before working as a maid. She entered politics fighting deforestation in the Amazon alongside the legendary conservationist Chico Mendes, who was assassinated in 1988.

As environment minister under President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, she sought tighter regulations for large infrastructure projects, such as the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam. She stepped down when Lula overlooked her in appointing the chief of a new Amazon task force.

“This is clearly a very favorable poll” for Silva, Feldman said by phone. “But polls only have a real value when there is a curve, when there is a previous comparison.”

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.