Brazil’s presidential candidates have taken part in the first TV debate of the campaign.
Incumbent President Dilma Rousseff faced her main rivals Marina Silva of the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB) and Aecio Neves of the PSDB.
Dilma Rousseff is ahead in the polls for the October 5 election but analysts predict it will go to a second round.
Marina Silva has replaced the former PSB candidate Eduardo Campos, who died in a plane crash earlier this month.
In the much-anticipated debate, President Dilama Rousseff defended her government’s popular social programs but blamed the international economic crisis for the country’s slowing economy.
Marina Silva spoke passionately about the need for widespread political reform and to remove power from the hands of traditional elites.
The latest opinion polls in Brazilian media on Tuesday showed Marina Silva had narrowed Dilma Rousseff’s lead to 34%, down from 38% in early August.
It gave Marina Silva 29% of voter support and Aecio Neves 19%.
Brazil’s presidential candidates have taken part in the first TV debate of the campaign (photo AFP)
The poll, published by O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3%.
Tuesday’s televised debate also includes candidates Eduardo Jorge (PV), Levy Fidelix (PRTB), Luciana Genro (PSOL) and Pastor Everaldo (PSC).
Dilma Rousseff is seeking re-election with the Workers’ Party (PT).
Marina Silva used to be a member of the PT during the government of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, but has since become a stern critic.
A former environment minister, Marina Silva ran for president in 2010 for the tiny Green Party and secured 19 million votes, but was knocked out in the first round.
Marina Silva decided to run for vice-president alongside Eduardo Campos after the Electoral Court in October 2013 refused to register her political movement, Rede Sustentabilidade (The Sustainability Network).
However, Marina Silva was appointed as the PSB’s main candidate after his sudden death.
Eduardo Campos died after a private jet crashed in bad weather in the port city of Santos, Sao Paulo state, while travelling from Rio de Janeiro to the seaside resort of Guaruja.
Brazil’s presidential election will go to a second round later in October if no candidate gets more than 50% of the votes.
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Marina Silva has been formally named as the Brazilian Socialist Party’s new presidential candidate.
Environmental campaigner Marina Silva, 56, replaces the late Eduardo Campos, who was killed in a plane crash last week.
Marina Silva was Eduardo Campos’s running mate and served as environment minister.
She is seen as a leading challenger to President Dilma Rousseff, who’s seeking re-election in the October 5 poll.
PSB President Roberto Amaral told a news conference Marina Silva had been chosen unanimously.
Congressman Beto Albuquerque was named the party’s new vice presidential candidate.
Marina Silva will test President Dilma Rousseff’s status as favorite to win October’s election and make this a much more interesting process than it looked like being barely a week ago.
Marina Silva has been formally named as the Brazilian Socialist Party’s new presidential candidate (photo AP)
In the last presidential election, standing as the Green candidate, Marina Silva polled a credible 20% of the vote and is already a recognizable and much-admired figure across this continent-sized nation.
The first test of public opinion after Eduardo Campos’s death suggested Marina Silva could surpass the main opposition PSDB candidate Aecio Neves in the first round and beat current President Dilma Rousseff in the second, although both outcomes were within the poll’s margin of error.
However, analysts caution that, with the strong emotional reaction to last week’s events, a bounce in the polls was inevitable and the picture could change substantially.
A devout evangelical Christian who overcame poverty, Marina Silva only learnt to read and write when she was 16.
Correspondents say she appeals mostly to young voters who are unhappy with the Brazilian political establishment.
On Sunday, more than 100,000 people in Brazil paid their last respects to the late presidential candidate, Eduardo Campos, a former governor and rising political star.
They attended a funeral Mass and filled the streets of the city of Recife to follow the passage of his coffin.
Eduardo Campos’s jet crashed on August 13 in bad weather in the port city Santos, near Sao Paulo, killing six other people. Investigators are still trying to establish the exact causes of the accident.
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Marina Silva, Brazil’s ex-environment minister, would replace former presidential candidate Eduardo Campos, who was killed in a plane crash on August 13.
Marina Silva is expected to be named in the next few days to run for president in October.
She agreed to run, but the decision still needs to be officially approved by Eduardo Campos’s Socialist Party (PSB).
The Socialists – the major partner in the opposition coalition established to run against President Dilma Rousseff – are expected to announce their decision after a meeting on August 20.
Marina Silva had decided to run for vice-president alongside Eduardo Campos after the Electoral Court in October 2013 refused to register her political movement, Rede Sustentabilidade (The Sustainability Network).
She fell out with the Workers’ Party government and left office to run against Dilma Rousseff in 2010.
An environmentalist and devout evangelical, Marina Silva polled surprisingly well, coming third with nearly 20% of the vote.
Marina Silva is expected to replace late Eduardo Campos to run for Brazil’s president in October
Dilma Rousseff, who is running for re-election in October, is the front-runner. On Sunday, the first opinion polls showing Marina Silva as candidate will be published in Brazil.
The first round of the presidential election will take place on 5 October and will go to a second round later that month if no candidate receives more than 50% of the votes.
The other main candidate is Aecio Neves, a current senator who will represent the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB).
Marina Silva is seen as a strong opponent and one who may win over even more support than Eduardo Campos would have.
She avoided addressing the issue as she travelled to Eduardo Campos’s funeral.
“I have a sense of responsibility and commitment,” she told journalists as she arrived in the north-eastern city of Recife.
Tens of thousands of people are expected to gather in the streets of the city on Sunday to pay their last respects to the popular politician.
Eduardo Campos came from a traditional family of politicians and was governor of Pernambuco for seven years, leaving office earlier this year with high approval rates.
His private jet – a Cessna 560XL – crashed in bad weather in the port city of Santos, in Sao Paulo state. It was travelling from Rio de Janeiro.
An investigation into the causes of the crash, which killed Eduardo Campos, 49, and six others, is under way.
The black box recovered from the wreckage of the plane did not record his flight, Brazilian Air Force (FAB) said.
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