BRASILIA, Brazil (AFP) – Leftist incumbent Dilma Rousseff and Social Democratic challenger Aecio Neves are fighting to break a statistical tie in the polls a week out from next Sunday’s presidential runoff.
The contest has developed into the closest-fought in a generation as Neves, scion of a political dynasty, looks to unseat Rousseff, whose Workers Party (PT) has been in power for 12 years. Having unexpectedly thrashed environmentalist Marina Silva in the first round, Neves, former governor of southern Minas Gerais state, has his nose just in front, polls say. But his advantage going into this weekend was wafer-thin at 51 percent to 49, leaving him and Rousseff in a virtual dead heat. The past week has seen Neves 54, and Rousseff, 66, engage in caustic debate with both accusing the other of lying and turning a blind eye to graft, a key issue in the debate amid a kickbacks scandal involving oil giant Petrobras.