Brazilian politician still in shock, party stunned by candidate's death
BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazilian environmentalist Marina Silva is still in shock from the death of presidential candidate Eduardo Campos and has not begun to consider whether she will run in his place, a close friend said on Thursday.
That closely watched decision could upend the Oct. 5 presidential race and threaten President Dilma Rousseff's re-election bid, given Silva's appeal to disaffected voters tired of the country's traditional parties.
"She is still in a state of shock. She had become very close to Eduardo and his family," said Congressman Alfredo Sirkis, who spoke to Silva by telephone on Thursday morning. "Her concerns are more human concerns at this moment," he said.
Stunned members of Campos' Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB) said no meetings on the party's election ticket will take place before his funeral, which has been held up by difficulties in identifying the remains found in the area where a private jet carrying Campos and his entourage went down on Wednesday.
Silva, who placed a strong third in the 2010 presidential race with almost 20 percent of the votes, joined Campos as his unlikely running mate after she failed to register her own party in time.
"Picking her as presidential candidate is an obvious solution. But in politics the obvious is not always the case," said Sirkis, who helped Silva found Brazil's Green Party in 1986.
The PSB said in a statement that the party was in mourning and would make election decisions in due course.
Many analysts and politicians expect the party to embrace Silva, who is well known nationally. But she will need to overcome the distrust of some party factions that frown upon her conservationist views and her anti-establishment style.
Campos was lagging third in the polls. Many analysts believe Silva's popularity could lift her into second place, edging out the main opposition candidate, Senator Aecio Neves of the pro-business Brazilian Social Democracy Party. That would set up a competitive second-round runoff with Rousseff.
Some PSB state governors resisted the vote-getting alliance forged by Campos with Silva. Now that Campos is no longer around to hold the partnership together, differences with Silva could split it apart.
Nothing will happen until the party buries its leader in his home city of Recife next week.
"We are not thinking about politics. We are still stunned. There is no mood for meetings," a party official said, asking not to be named because of the delicate moment.
The official said some party leaders were caught up in the gory process of DNA identification of body parts from the plane that exploded when it crashed into a residential area of Santos after an aborted landing in bad weather.
Silva, a devout evangelical Christian, was secluded in her Sao Paulo home, praying and meditating, but not discussing politics with anyone, he said.
(Additional reporting by Jeferson Ribeiro; Editing by Todd Benson and Jonathan Oatis)