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Tight contest for Brazil’s top job

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff greets supporters during an election campaign rally in Salvador, Brazil, on Thursday, ahead of presidential run-off vote on October 26. Photo: EPA.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff greets supporters during an election campaign rally in Salvador, Brazil, on Thursday, ahead of presidential run-off vote on October 26. Photo: EPA.

Published Oct 12, 2014

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Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and opposition candidate Aecio Neves are statistically tied ahead of the October 26 run-off, according two polls this week.

Neves garnered 46 percent support, compared with 44 percent for Rousseff in an Ibope poll on Tuesday and Wednesday, whose results are within the margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points.

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Rousseff, who represents the Workers’ Party, won 42 percent in the first round on Sunday, compared to 34 percent for Neves of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party. In an Ibope survey published last Saturday, Rousseff had 45 percent and Neves 37 percent.

The two candidates will compete in a run-off that is expected to be the most contested in more than a decade.

Neves, who pulled off a surprise second-place finish over Marina Silva in the first round, has blamed Rousseff’s economic policies for slowing growth and fanning inflation.

The incumbent has highlighted low unemployment and said Neves’ policies would jeopardise social programmes that have lifted millions from poverty in the past decade.

“The question is, is this the beginning of the Aecio wave or the high point,” Joao Augusto de Castro Neves, an analyst with political risk consulting firm Eurasia Group, said from Washington.

“I think he’ll start to go down now. This will depend a lot on the attack strategy, television time and the fact that he’s now being attacked and under much more scrutiny. The dynamics point to a tightening in favour of Rousseff.”

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Silva’s Brazilian Socialist Party said this week it would throw its support behind Neves in the second-round election.

Silva placed third last Sunday, with with 21 percent support, totalling over 22 million votes.

Rousseff in her first speech since the Sunday vote, criticised her 54-year-old contender from Minas Gerais state, saying Brazilians did not want to bring back “ghosts of the past” such as energy rationing and higher unemployment, referring to the 1995-2002 period during which Neves’ party ruled.

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Neves has said the Brazilian people were more concerned with the “monsters of the present”, including a recession in the first half of the year and inflation that has surged past the upper limit of the central bank’s target range.

In a second voter survey published on Thursday, Neves would get 46 percent of the total vote on October 26, compared to 44 percent for Rousseff, according to Datafolha poll released on Globo TV.

The Wednesday-Thursday survey of 2 879 people has a margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points.

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A Datafolha poll released last Saturday showed Neves trailing Rousseff by 42 percent to 48 percent.

Thursday’s Ibope survey, which was conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday, canvassed 3 010 people.

The benchmark Ibovespa stock index has gained 27 percent from this year’s low on March 14 on speculation that Rousseff will be replaced by a more business-friendly administration.

Brazil’s economy contracted 0.6 percent in the second quarter after shrinking a revised 0.2 percent during the first three months of the year.

Analysts surveyed by the central bank on October 3 expected the world’s second-largest emerging market to grow 0.24 percent this year, the slowest pace since 2009.

Monthly consumer price increases last month accelerated to 0.57 percent, pushing annual inflation to 6.75 percent.

That is the highest level in nearly three years. Brazil’s central bank targets annual inflation at 4.5 percent, plus or minus two percentage points. – Bloomberg

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