Inter-American Dialogue – Latin America Advisor, 8/1/2014
Q: Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff is maintaining a lead over main opposition candidate Aecio Neves ahead of the country’s October elections and would beat him in a potential second round, according to a recent poll by Ibope. However, other recent polls have shown the two candidates neck-and-neck in a runoff. With just over two months to go before the election, what factors will have the largest influence on the vote’s outcome? With Brazilians also voting for national and state legislatures and state governors, what are the other key races to watch?
A: Carlos Eduardo Lins da Silva, global fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars: “At this point of the presidential campaign in Brazil, it seems that the odds in favor of Dilma Rousseff’s re-election are better in the election’s first round than in the runoff if it becomes necessary. President Rousseff has a relatively comfortable advantage over the two main opposition candidates in public opinion polls in the first round. But in the runoff simulations, she appears in a virtual tie with Aecio Neves and with a larger but not huge majority over Eduardo Campos. This is probably because the runoff will appear as a kind of referendum on her government. Her chances to be re-elected in the first round will increase if the present inclination of around one-fourth of all voters (according to the most recent polls) to nullify their votes or to vote blank remains. If this happens, with more than a dozen candidates on the ballot, Rousseff may get more than 50 percent of the valid votes and avoid a runoff. The record amount of voters who say they do not want to vote for anyone reflects a growing frustration among Brazilians with the country’s political system. The immense majority of poll respondents say they want change. But most do not seem happy with what the candidates have offered them as possible change. The same polls show that health and public security are the main concerns of the population. But the dissatisfaction is also huge with public transportation, education and other social public services. To these problems, in recent months have been added serious doubts regarding the economy, chiefly about inflation and unemployment. All these will be the main issues in the campaign.