As the last votes were counted on Sunday evening, the Brazilian people unable to chose a clear winner have sent into motion a runoff election for the Office of the President. The two winners, President Dilma Rousseff and Senator Aecio Neves, will advance to the next round of elections to be held on October 26th.
Receiving just 42 percent of the vote, the incumbent, Rousseff did not secure a large enough percentage of the vote to stave off her opponents. Now Rousseff must endure three more weeks of campaigning and an onslaught of attack ads if she hopes to hold a second term.
In a more surprising turn of events, Marina Silva, the environmental activist star and member of the Socialist Party, only received 21.3 percent of the vote landing her in third place. Unfortunately, her rival Aecio Neves, won 33.6 percent of the vote gaining him a place on the ballot for the run-off election.
Although polls from the week prior showed Silva nipping at the heels of Rousseff, she was not able to expand upon her surge in popularity. Following a week of attack ads and negative campaigning by Rousseff and Neves, Silva’s stock plummeted. This lost for Silva, is not only a disappointment for her and the Socialist party, but for both the advancement of women and Afro-Brazilians in politics. If Silva had been victorious, she would have been the second woman to be President and the first Afro-Brazilian person to hold the high office.
Neves, who is currently serving as a Senator in the Brazilian Federal Senate, joins the incumbent on the run-off ballot as the Social Democracy Party’s candidate.
Neves, whose policies and beliefs land him on the center-right of the political spectrum, has the reputation for being business friendly and holding a conservative outlook. Throughout his campaign, he has called on Brazil to do more to attract international business and retain top performing Brazilian companies as a way to pull out of current economic stagnation. As a result, Neves has used this image to court voters away from Rousseff who has the country’s past and current economic woes attached to her administration.
Interestingly, Neves at one time in the race trailed by 20 points but this presidential race has not been short on drama. Now that his place in the runoff election is secured, Neves called on Silva’s supports to back him as he is now the “hope for change” the country has been searching for.
With the runoff election less then three weeks away, the race isn’t over yet. Although Rousseff came out of the first round of voting with a large victory, she does not have the race secured. When you consider the numbers, Rousseff only received 40 percent of the vote while a majority of voters chose a different candidate. This outcome is a gloomy picture for the incumbent who at one point was considered a shoe-in for a second term.
While most experts are favoring the incumbent for victory, Neves has a good shot to overcome Rousseff. It’s expected that Neves will be able to court a large slice of Silva’s votes, which will certainly add to his margins.
However, Rousseff has the incumbency to her advantage and has the support of the lower middle class and poor families in Brazil. Her social welfare programs over the past four years have helped millions of Brazilians find freedom from poverty which will lend itself well for courting Silva’s votes.
One thing is clear, the battle for the runoff election will put on display the two candidates’ visions for Brazil and countless attack ads will air trying to discredit the opposing strategy. Rousseff will certainly showcase the importance of state-led capitalism and the success it can and has brought Brazil. While Neves will explain how a transition to more market-friendly policies can bring Brazil even more economic success and lift the country out of it’s current slowing economy.
Now Brazilians must decide for themselves which viewpoint they believe will bring their country prosperity and which candidate they believe will be most successful at achieving their campaign promises. And as they do, the world should be watching as one of the most important up and coming players on the world stage makes a decision that will impact the future of our interconnected global economies.