Marina Silva to compete in Brazil’s 2018 general election

December 4, 2017

Latin News

On 2 December, Brazilian activist Marina Silva announced during a meeting held in the capital Brasília her intention to run for the environmental party Rede Sustentabilidade (Rede) in next year's presidential election.

Significance: After a “period of reflection”, the former environmental minister (2003-2008) and former senator for the remote northern state of Acre (1995-2011) said she wanted to run in the 2018 general election. This is the third time that Silva will compete for the presidency, having failed to make it to the second-round run-offs during the previous two elections. She is currently polling in third place in early voting intention polls, behind leftist former president Lula da Silva (2003-2011) of theleft-wing Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT) in first place and far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro of the Partido Social Cristão (PSC) in second place, according to a survey by Datafolha.

Silva is hoping to capitalise on voter disenchantment with Brazil’s three main parties - the ruling Partido do Movimento Democrático Brasileiro (PMDB), the centre-right Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira (PSDB), and the PT - who she blames for both rampant corruption and a severe domestic economic recession. “We need a four-year sabbatical from the parties which created the crisis”, Silva said.

While Silva acknowledges the need for fiscal responsibility, she is a vocal critic of the current government led by President Michel Temer, especially the budget cuts to environmental agencies and social programmes. Instead, she advocates the need for greater sustainability to protect Brazil’s natural resources. Silva also wants to increase social provisions and recover the lost potential of Brazil’s young people, who have been hard hit by the country’s economic woes.

Silva is seen as a grafter, having worked her way up through the political ranks from her humble beginnings as a rubber collector in Acre. Her down-to-earth style allows her to connect with ordinary voters, particularly those from less wealthy states. This gives her an edge over other possible presidential candidates such as the mayor of the city of São Paulo João Doria (PSDB), a flashy former TV star who is struggling to drum up support outside his home state despite a slick PR campaign.

However Silva’s party, Rede, is still seen as obscure, and being a young party it has little representation in the federal congress. Under Brazil’s electoral rules, this means that Rede has less TV time allocated to it electoral campaigns compared to more established parties, and this will limit Silva’s reach. To get around this, Rede deputies hope to forge alliances with other leftist parties to increase their representation and air time.

Looking Ahead: To become official, Silva’s presidential candidacy needs to be approved by Rede's national congress during a session scheduled for April 2018. 

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