Silva Opens 10-Point Lead Over Rousseff in Brazil Election Poll

Candidate Marina Silva opened a lead of 10 percentage points in a runoff vote over President Dilma Rousseff after Brazil’s economy dipped into recession, according to a Datafolha poll.

Silva has 50 percent of voter support in an Oct. 26 second round vote against the incumbent, who has 40 percent, according to the Aug. 28-29 poll published last night. The former environment minister had an advantage of four percentage points over Rousseff in the previous survey conducted Aug. 14-15, which fell within the plus or minus two percentage point margin of error of the surveys.

Silva, who entered the race Aug. 20, is capitalizing on voter discontent with a shrinking economy and above-target inflation. Yesterday she pledged to slow consumer price increases by giving the central bank formal autonomy and moderating the pace of fiscal spending. Rousseff says her administration has protected workers with rising salaries and near-record low jobless rates.

“The first two, three weeks of the campaign are critical for Marina,” Christopher Garman, deputy head of research at political consulting company Eurasia Group, said by phone. “Voter preference are still in flux. But in the first week she hit a home run.”

The Ibovespa stock exchange index rose 4.9 percent this week as polls also published by Ibope and MDA showed Silva leading the race in the second round.

First Round

Silva and Rousseff would tie in the first round on Oct. 5 with 34 percent of the vote each, followed by Senator Aecio Neves with 15 percent, according to Datafolha, which surveyed 2,874 people. Brazil holds a runoff if the lead candidate fails to garner more votes than all others put together.

Gross domestic product fell 0.6 percent in the second quarter over the previous three months, after contracting a revised 0.2 percent in the first quarter, according to date released yesterday by the national statistics agency. It’s the first time Brazil’s economy contracted for two straight quarters since the aftermath of the global financial crisis in 2008.

Silva became the candidate for the Brazilian Socialist Party when former Pernambuco Governor Eduardo Campos was killed in an Aug. 13 plane crash.

“Marina is an extremely competitive candidate,” Andre Cesar, director at public policy and business strategy consulting company Prospectiva, said by phone. “It is still too soon to say she is the favorite given there is still a month of campaigning.”

Rousseff’s and Neve’s allies will counter-react to Silva’s surge in polls, Garman said. They will say Silva is a “wild card” that can’t be trusted and is unprepared to lead.

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