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Brazil: rival Marina Silva gains on Dilma Rousseff after presidential TV debate

Brazil: rival Marina Silva gains on Dilma Rousseff after presidential TV debate
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Brazilian presidential candidate Marina Silva has surged forward in the latest opinion polls after the first televised debate in the country’s presidential campaign.

Her growing popularity is making a second round runoff all the more likely after the October 5 election.

All six challengers to the incumbent President Dilma Rousseff took part in the debate, but it’s the rivalry between Silva of the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB) and Rousseff of the Workers’ Party (PT) which is capturing voter attention.

Silva who is a former environment minister is a last minute replacement for Eduardo Campos who died in a plane crash earlier this month.

Voters seem willing to give her a chance:

Retiree Ana Maria said: “Who really knows, she (Silva) might be able to help the poor. But I don’t know. Once she’s inside…it’s an unknown.”

“At least last night, in the debate, they showed her preparedness and objectives,” said clerk Uillis Rodrigues. “There were certianly differences between the candidates.”

Current polls put Silva narrowing President Rousseff’s lead to 34% – down from 38% and pundits have now gone as far as saying Silva will beat Rousseff when it comes to the predicted runoff.

An investigation is underway into the deaths of Eduardo Campos and six other people when the politician’s private jet crashed in bad weather in the port city of Santos while travelling from Rio de Janeiro to the seaside resort of Guaruja.