SÃO PAULO — Environmental activist and evangelical Christian Marina Silva will run for president for the Brazilian Socialist Party-led electoral coalition, it was officially confirmed late on Wednesday at the party’s headquarters in the Brazilian capital, Brasília.
Federal deputy Beto Albuquerque was also confirmed as Silva’s vice presidential running mate, in what local media reported as a unanimous decision between the six parties that make up the coalition.
Party leaders were forced to form a new presidential ticket after presidential candidate and former governor of Pernambuco state, Eduardo Campos, was killed last Wednesday in a plane crash.
Silva told assembled party members that she recognised Campos as “the party’s chosen leader” and said she was buoyed by the “opportunity to preserve the good things” achieved in the country and also “change the things that are wrong.”
Silva said she would honour the commitments made “side-by-side” with Campos.
“We won’t give up on Brazil,” she said, citing a phrase uttered by Campos before his death, which has now become the party’s campaign slogan.
Albuquerque said he wanted to continue the work already begun together with Campos over the past 20 years: “Marina and I are not going to leave Eduardo’s legacy half done,” the new vice presidential candidate said in an emotional speech.
The party has until Saturday to make official its new presidential candidates with Brazil’s Supreme Electoral Court.
Speculation had been rife that the former senator and environment minister under ex-President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva would replace Campos to head the presidential ticket for the Socialist Party since last week’s fatal accident.
After running for president for the Green Party in 2010 and taking third place with nearly 20 percent of the vote, Silva had been Campos’s running mate for the 2014 race for the presidency — a position she agreed to fill after failing to register her own party for the elections, the Sustainability Network.
The first round of the 2014 general elections is set to take place on 5 October and around 143 million Brazilians are eligible to vote.
The Socialist Party coalition has been in the unenviable position of kicking off its television and radio campaign without confirmed candidates.
All parties are allotted free national airtime for presidential candidates divided in accordance with the number of members of Congress. Rousseff’s Workers’ Party-led coalition has been awarded nearly half the 25-minute slots. The Socialist Party gets just over two minutes, by contrast.
All major parties led their first broadcasts, on Tuesday, with tributes to Eduardo Campos, but his family has since banned all parties except the Socialist Party from using his image in their electoral campaigns.
A recent election poll, taken immediately after Campos’s death, saw Silva — a hypothetical candidate at the time — secure 21 percent of the vote, overtaking Brazilian Social Democracy Party candidate Aécio Neves and taking second place behind the incumbent, Dilma Rousseff, who is vying for a second term in office.
The Datafolha poll suggested the elections would almost certainly be forced into a second round on 26 October, and that a more-likely Rousseff-Silva runoff would end in a technical dead heat, given the poll’s margin of error, with 43 and 47 percent of votes respectively in that scenario.
Rousseff took 36 percent of votes and Neves – 20 percent in the poll, unchanged from the previous survey, with the “new” votes for Silva coming from previously undecided voters and those who had planned to spoil their ballot or abstain.
Campos had received just eight percent of the vote in the last Datafolha poll before his death, and was in third place behind Neves.
It now remains to be seen whether the recent significant numerical boost to the Socialist Party, which has been attributed both to the fact that Silva is better known nationally and to the outpouring of emotion following Campos’s death, can be maintained over the next 45 days.
Raised in a poor family of illiterate rubber-tappers in the remote state of Acre, political experts told the Anadolu Agency that Silva is likely to lure voters from lower socioeconomic and increasingly-important evangelical demographics, as well as younger, left-leaning, environment-orientated voters.