BRAZIL ELECTIONS 2014

Silva calls for “political renovation” in her first speech as presidential candidate

The Brazilian environmental activist is promising to follow through on Eduardo Campos’ program

Marina Silva gives her first speech as candidate.
Marina Silva gives her first speech as candidate.PEDRO LADEIRA (AFP)

As Marina Silva gave her first speech as the new presidential candidate for the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB), she returned again and again to the need for “political renovation” in Brazil and to the memory of Eduardo Campos, the Socialist leader who died in a plane crash last week. The ecologist said the country has been showing signs of this need for change since the 2010 elections and throughout the 2013 demonstrations.

Silva opened her speech by thanking God for helping the party during the “difficult passage” after Campos’ death. As she spoke, the crowd shouted: “Campos, present! Marina, president!” The presidential hopeful stood on the stage, surrounded by PSB leaders. She delivered a clear message: “Right now, our word is ‘grow.’ To grow in political maturity, in our willingness to do what our program of change calls for. To grow in sensibility and generosity so that we can lead despite our differences, in unity, with our ears open to our people.”

Despite the change in candidate, the PSB-Sustainability Network coalition will make few changes to its platform

Despite the change in candidate, the PSB-Sustainability Network coalition will make few changes to its platform. “We will keep what we have built so far,” Silva said. She and her running mate, Rio Grande do Sul deputy Beto Albuquerque, said there will be no changes within the coalition or in candidates at the state level, including those in which PSB and Silva’s Sustainability Network party could not come to an agreement.

“We are committed to the responsibilities we took up, shoulder-to-shoulder, under Eduardo Campos’ leadership,” Silva said. “Now we have the responsibility to help PSB get up after this tragedy.”

We want our campaign to be clear and transparent, like Eduardo’s eyes”

Silva and Albuquerque said they would tour the country during their campaign and promised to show unity and integrity. “We are not going to use social media platforms to lie or to slander,” Silva said. “We want our campaign to be clear and transparent, like Eduardo’s eyes.”

“We have 46 days to travel around Brazil and participate in debates in a positive way,” Albuquerque added.

The new presidential contender has entered full force into the campaign. A Datafolha poll published on Monday – the first one carried out after Campos’ death – predicted that Silva would receive 21 percent of the votes in the first round. Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB) candidate Aécio Neves is expected to win 20 percent. The poll predicted that President Dilma Rousseff and her Workers Party (PT) would lead with 36 percent. But if Silva were to face the president in a runoff, she is expected to pull in 47 percent of the votes. According to the survey, Rousseff would receive 43 percent.

A Datafolha poll predicted that Silva would receive 21 percent of the votes in the first round

Silva is a 56-year-old native of Breu Velho (Acre Province, northern Brazil). Her story, much like that of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, is one of overcoming struggles. She was born in a poor family. She remained illiterate until she was 16 years old and moved to Rio Branco, the capital of her home state. There, she studied and got her first job as a maid. In 1985, she finished a degree in history and joined the Workers Party. She then served as councilwoman, state deputy and senator. In 2003, she was named minister of environment in Lula’s administration. But she left the post and the party in 2008. In 2010, she ran for president on the Green Party ticket and received 20 million votes.

At a press conference, PSB President Roberto Amaral said Silva was the party’s unanimous choice. “We had the great luck of having her as a replacement.”

Translation: Dyane Jean François

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