A game changer in Brazil’s 2014 presidential elections

Paulo Sotero- Huffington Post, 10/11/2013

Prevented by the Courts from running for Planalto, world-renowned environmentalist Marina Silva makes a surprising move to unseat Dilma Rousseff

Former senator Marina Silva’s unexpected decision to join the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB) and position herself as running mate of governor Eduardo Campos of Pernambuco, president of the PSB, in next year’s presidential race, has forced campaign strategists back to the drawing board. It is viewed in political circles as a potential game changer. President Dilma Rousseff’s reelection next year is no longer seen as assured by seasoned campaign advisers and analysts. They say that a Campos-Marina ticket would be the first credible alternative to the Workers’ Party (PT) of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and the Social Democratic Party (PSDB) of his predecessor, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, which have dominated national politics in Brazil for the past two decades. “Marinas’s support for Campos inserts a wedge in the discredited PT-PSDB polarization,” said Carlos Melo, a political science professor at Insper, a private business school in São Paulo.

Both Rousseff and Senator Aécio Neves, the PSDB all-but-declared candidate, were taken by surprise by the announcement on Friday of the Marina-Campos alliance and acknowledged its potential impact by calling on advisers to reconsider their strategies for next year’s presidential race, scheduled for October 2014.

“Bringing Marina to his tent was a masterful move on the part of Campos,” said a campaign strategist who has done work for members of the current government coalition and for opposition candidates and asked not to be named because he is actively involved in the 2014 race. “They complement each other politically and geographically: Most of the 20 million votes she received in the first round in 2010 came from the more populous South and Southeast regions, especially in major urban centers, where her sustainability agenda has growing support.” Campos is less known in both regions but brings solid support from a business community increasingly frustrated with Rousseff’s statist orientation, poor managerial capacity and the disappointing economic performance of her government.

Paulo Sotero is the Director of the Brazil Institute at the Wilson Center

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