- Gerardo Lissardy
- BBC World, Brazil
Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff was the clear favorite to be re-elected in the October 5 election, up to 15 points ahead of her closest rival. That, of course, until a month ago.
After environmentalist Marina Silva replaced a deceased socialist candidate and became the favourite, up to ten points ahead of Rousseff in a likely runoff election. That, sure, until a few days ago.
Now the president is on a comeback and reduces the gap that leads to her rival, perhaps even reaching a technical tie.
All of the above, according to the main Brazilian opinion polls.
Changes in voting intentions are normal before any election, but the degree and speed with which they are reported in Brazil this campaign resembles a roller coaster ride that surprises even experts.
«So many oscillations is something we are not used to,» Denise Paiva, a professor of political science at the Federal University of Goiás, in central Brazil, told BBC Mundo.
«It is a new scenario even for us,» says this specialist in electoral behavior.
However, analysts say that there are explanations for what is happening in the South American giant.
The tragic death of the Brazilian socialist candidate Eduardo Campos on August 13 caused a true earthquake in the Brazilian campaign.
Until then, Rousseff led comfortably in all the polls, ahead of the Social Democrat Aécio Neves and de Campos, third with nearly 10% of voting intentions.
When Silva replaced Campos, she immediately became a more weighty candidate, who had already surprised by garnering 19% of the vote in 2010.
For these comedians he created a new party, but he lacked the required adhesions to register it and that is why he supported Campos.
The former environment minister also seemed to capture some of the emotional impact caused by the death of her running mate, and in a few days she rose rapidly in the polls.
At the end of August, she was already on the heels of Rousseff for the first turn and taking off for a hypothetical second round between the two: the Datafolha company gave her a ten-point advantage and Ibope nine.
Antonio Lavareda, a Brazilian political scientist who authored the book «Hidden Emotions and Electoral Strategies,» agrees that such variations in polls are totally exceptional.
«This had not happened between us,» he tells BBC Mundo.
«Nor had any candidate for president been killed during an electoral campaign.»
Lavareda rules out the possibility that the polls may be wrongly measuring the intention to vote of Brazilians, and that is why they fluctuate so much.
In his opinion, when analysts gave Rousseff a favorite, they forgot that the level of rejection of the president reached up to 46% of the electorate and that three out of four voters said they wanted a different government from the current one.
But why then does the president appear on the rise in the latest polls?
Paiva warns that more refined studies are needed to understand not only who the Brazilians are going to vote for but why, that their trial can only take place after the elections.
Last week, Datafolha and Ibope placed Rousseff on the rise, leading the intentions for the first round and closing the gap with Silva for a second round: four points and one point behind respectively.
Specialists believe that this reflects the effect of the attacks that Rousseff and her Workers’ Party (PT) began to launch against Silva, accusing her, among other things, of being unprepared to govern.
However, Silva has also responded with harsh criticism, for example stating that the PT kept a director at the state-owned Petrobras who dedicated himself to «raiding» its coffers.
The oil company became a hot topic in the campaign after one of its former executives, who is imprisoned, implicated in a confidential testimony to several members of the government coalition in an alleged corruption scheme with company contracts, according to the magazine veja.
Those involved reject the suspicions and the complaints are being investigated.
It is probable that in the next few days there will be possible new complaints or more crossed blows that could alter the polls again.
This Tuesday there will be a new debate between candidates, organized by the Episcopate.
Alberto Almeida, another public opinion expert who authored the book «The Brazilian’s Head,» believes that voter behavior arose from «new facts» that emerge.
«But the main thing (is that) there may be a technical draw in the absence of new facts,» Almeida told BBC Mundo.
In other words, after so many oscillations in the polls, today it is unknown what will happen in Brazil on October 5 or in a probable second round on the 26th of that month.
And that will be the only truly decisive voter opinion.