RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) – After a topsy-turvy campaign, Brazil votes in presidential elections Sunday, with incumbent Dilma Rousseff headed for a likely runoff against one of two challengers promising very different brands of change.
The telenovela-like drama of the race – a candidate’s death in a fiery plane crash, a poor maid’s rise to the cusp of the presidency, a seedy oil scandal – continued down to the wire.
On the eve of the vote, Marina Silva, the environmentalist whose meteoric rise once looked unstoppable, slipped to third place behind business-world favorite Aecio Neves.
Three polls released Saturday gave Silva, a one-time maid and rubber-tapper who has vowed to be multiracial Brazil’s first “poor, black president,” between 21 per cent and 24 per cent of the vote, trailing Neves (24-27 percent) and Rousseff (41-46 per cent).
But the race for the second spot in a likely October 26 runoff was too close to call, with the gap between Neves and Silva less than the two-percentage-point margin of error in all three polls.
Either candidate would face an uphill battle to unseat Rousseff, Brazil’s first woman president, who led the probable second-round race by a more than five-point margin against both.