Marina Silva replaces the late Eduardo Campos in Brazilian presidential bid

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 August, 2014, 4:15am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 August, 2014, 4:15am


Leaders of a Brazilian party that lost its presidential candidate Eduardo Campos in a plane crash have chosen his running mate to stand in his place, creating a new challenge to President Dilma Rousseff's re-election.

Former environment minister Marina Silva, who made a strong run in Brazil's last presidential election, will replace Campos on the Socialist Party ticket. Campos was killed on Wednesday when his small plane smashed into a residential area in the city of Santos.

Ricardo Young, a Sao Paulo city councillor and close associate of Silva, said she accepted the offer to run on Friday. "The party has some internal procedures it wants to follow to announce it, but the main leadership has confirmed it," he said.

The party's leader in the Senate, Rodrigo Rollemberg, said said Silva's running mate would now have to be chosen.

Silva, 56, is a party outsider who joined Campos' ticket last year only after she failed to obtain enough signatures to register her own party for the race. However, she has a wide following and earned nearly 20 per cent of the votes in the 2010 elections. An evangelical Christian, Silva was a close associate of environmental activist Chico Mendes, who was murdered in 1988.

Silva was among many politicians travelling over the weekend to Recife in northeastern Brazil, where Campos was born, for his funeral.

Polls had shown Campos was running a distant third after Rousseff and opponent Aecio Neves, but many political analysts said Silva may be a stronger candidate, and could at least prevent a first-round victory for Rousseff on October 5. Her main support comes among Brazilians disgruntled by sluggish growth, high taxes and poor health care and education.

Veja magazine columnist Lauro Jardim reported today that a phone survey conducted on the day after the plane crash showed Rousseff led among voters, followed by Silva and Neves. In the survey's hypothetical run-off, Silva defeated Rousseff.

Additional reporting by Bloomberg