Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, one of Brazil's most popular politicians, came all-out Tuesday in favor of the campaign to reelect his successor, Dilma Rousseff, assuring voters they can support her without qualms.
With the campaigns for the Oct. 5 elections starting Tuesday on television, the ideal medium for getting political messages across in Brazil, Lula burst onto the small screen with a powerful message in favor of a second four-year term for his political protege.
"Everyone knows that my second term was better than the first" and "that's how it will be with Dilma," Lula said, appealing to what Brazilians remember about his 2003-2011 tenure.
For her part, Rousseff evaluated the social progress in the country during Lula's two terms and her four years in power, and asked for voters' trust in order to "stay on this road."
She mentioned the almost 40 million Brazilians who have emerged from poverty over the past 12 years and said the country has maintained "economic order" despite the devastating global crisis that began in 2008.
"We stopped the crisis from getting into the homes of Brazilians and from interrupting the cycle of change we have had since Lula," Rousseff said, adding the in Europe and the United States, "millions of jobs have been destroyed" by the crisis.
"Here, on the contrary, employment increased and millions of people continue to leave poverty behind," she said.
She acknowledged, however, that global woes "reduced the rate of economic growth" in Brazil.
Amid a lack of confidence in the economy, Rousseff invited optimism. "A pessimist gives up before beginning," the president said, after which an announcer said "And Dilma doesn't give up."
In the almost 12 minutes available to her, Rousseff was seen with workers, students and business owners, and on many of her trips abroad. But she was also shown cooking and gardening at her official residence.
"Dilma, a woman who wakes up early and works hard," just like "any housewife," the announcer said in an obvious attempt to identify her with the way many women live.
Until Oct. 2, each candidate will have a certain amount of free television time, which has been calculated based on the number of parties with congressional representation that support them.
Television advertising will be broadcast three days a week and Rousseff will have almost 12 minutes per segment, compared with close to 5 minutes for the main challenger, Aecio Neves.
The Brazilian Socialist Party had nominated Eduardo Campos, who was killed last Wednesday in a plane crash. The party is expected to name the lated candidate's running mate, former Enviroment Minister Marina Silva, to replace him.
Results of a poll taken after Campos' death indicate that Silva would edge out Neves to qualify for a runoff with Rousseff.
A majority is needed for outright victory in the Oct. 5 contest and most analysts were expecting a runoff between Rousseff and Neves.
Polling firm Datafolha asked respondents about two hypothetical second-round duels: one pitting Rousseff against the former environment minister; the other a contest between Neves and the incumbent.
The responses show Silva prevailing over Rousseff by 46 percent to 43 percent, while the current president would beat Neves by a margin of 47 percent to 39 percent. EFE