World Bulletin/News Desk
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff would lose to rival Aécio Neves if the second round of the country's presidential vote were held Thursday, two new election polls predicted.
Surveys by leading pollsters Datafolha and Ibope showed Neves, the pro-business, center-right Social Democracy candidate would win 46 percent of votes, with the incumbent and leftist Workers' Party (PT) candidate at 44 percent.
A margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points applicable to both polls means the two candidates are technically tied.
When undecided voters or those planning on spoiling their votes, totaling 10 percent in both polls, are dismissed, the "valid vote" share is 51 percent for Neves to 49 percent for Rousseff.
The Datafolha poll also surveyed voters' evaluation of the ruling government, which was largely unchanged from the previous poll in the series. Thirty-nine percent of respondents approved of Rousseff's government; 38 percent said it was satisfactory; and 22 percent said it was "bad" or "terrible."
The Datafolha poll surveyed 2,879 eligible voters across the country Oct. 8-9; Ibope consulted 3,010 voters Oct. 7-8.
These are the first major polls following Sunday's first-round vote, in which Neves performed unexpectedly strong, taking 33.6 percent of votes. Rousseff garnered 41.6 percent of support, falling short of the 50 percent required for an outright win to avoid a runoff.
Former environment minister Marina Silva managed 21.3 percent of votes, placing third, and was eliminated.
Silva has yet to publicly announce whom she will support in the runoff campaign, but the party she represented in the first round, the Brazilian Socialist Party, has decided to back Neves, although some regional factions have expressed support for Rousseff.
The majority of the remaining eight fringe candidates have so far backed Neves. However, Luciana Genro, the only minor candidate to take more than 1 percent of votes, said her party would abstain, but recommended voters spoil their ballot or opt for Rousseff.
A hotly fought runoff campaign is now expected to center on the issues of the economy and corruption, and there has been bad news on both fronts for Rousseff this week.
On the economy, the IMF slashed its growth forecast for the year to 0.3 percent, and results for September showed annual inflation had breached the central bank's 6.5 percent target by 0.25 points.
Three parties, including PT, were also alleged to have been involved in a kickback scheme at the heart of state-run oil giant Petrobras. A former company director, Paulo Roberto Costa, who is currently being investigated for his role in the corruption scheme, said cash siphoned off company contracts financed the PT's 2010 election campaign, which saw Rousseff elected president.
Rousseff and Neves represent the two main parties that have dominated and polarized politics in the country since its re-democratization in the late 1980s.
The incumbent will attempt to consolidate her support in the poorer north and northeast regions, while wooing the economically- and politically-influential southeast regions, including São Paulo, that voted overwhelmingly for Neves on Sunday.
Neves is expected to seize on Rousseff's bad economic news and political revelations, as well as emphasizing his "small government" vision, desire to attract investors and take Brazil back to economic growth.
Last Mod: 10 Ekim 2014, 12:33