TCS Dispatches: Brazilian election neck and neck

Alice Boyd 13 October 2014

Brazilian voters are currently staring down the barrel of the most unpredictable election to face their country in decades.

Incumbent leader Dilma Rousseff is seeking her second term for the leftist Workers Party (PT), while rival Aecio Neves hopes to end 12 years of PT dominance by leading the centrist PSDB (Brazilian Social Democrats Party) to victory. The volatile campaign has been particularly hard to predict, due to the sudden death of candidate Eduardo Campos in August and the sudden, unexpected surge of support for his replacement, Marina Silva.

First round elections on October 5 left Silva trailing behind with only 21% of the vote, meaning that Ms Rousseff and her rival Mr Neves face a tight run-off to take place October 26th. Polls suggest that Rousseff maintains a slight lead over her opponent. An ideological leftist and head of the country’s workers party (PT), Rousseff has strong support in the country’s poor north and north-east.

Though nowhere near as popular as her predecessor and mentor Lula de Silva, Ms Rousseff has managed to stay ahead of her opponent throughout the campaign. The PT’s social welfare programs have won the party widespread support and are credited with pulling tens of million Brazilians out of poverty, many of whom remain loyal to Ms Rousseff as a result.

Pro business rival Mr Neves is well supported in the country’s industrial north. Latin America’s largest economy has been stuck in a rut for four years under Rousseff, making Neves a popular candidate with Brazil’s business community. The senator has promised to address high inflation, recession and corruption; appealing to those that are ready for change. The opposition has been able to take advantage of the high-cost of living, rising violence and concerns about job security to gain support.