| BRASILIA/SAO PAULO
BRASILIA/SAO PAULO Oct 5 Two of Brazil's most
popular opposition leaders will join forces on Saturday, a party
source told Reuters, an unexpected alliance that could pose a
major challenge to President Dilma Rousseff in next year's
Marina Silva, a colorful former environment minister who is
running second in polls for next year's vote, will announce she
is joining the PSB Party of Pernambuco state Governor Eduardo
Campos, a PSB source said on condition of anonymity.
It is undecided whether Silva or Campos will be the party's
presidential candidate, the source said. Several local media
outlets including newspaper Folha de S.Paulo said Campos was
likely to head the ticket, with Silva as the number-two.
Silva said on Twitter that she would hold a press conference
later on Saturday.
Whoever runs, the alliance creates a center-left,
business-friendly alternative to Rousseff that seems
well-positioned to cash in on growing discontent among the
business elite with Brazil's stagnant economy, as well as
popular unrest following a wave of anti-government street
protests in June.
Rousseff, a pragmatic leftist, has not officially announced
her candidacy for re-election in 2014 but she currently leads
polls by a healthy margin. She retains broad support among
Brazil's poor, thanks to unemployment near record lows and her
party's success in reducing poverty over the past decade.
Silva, who grew up poor in the Amazon and worked as a maid
before graduating from college, is very popular among younger
Brazilians, environmentally conscious voters and evangelical
Christians. She placed a strong third in the 2010 presidential
election on the Green Party ticket, and has been rising in polls
since the June protests.
However, her bid to create a new political party failed this
week because of legal technicalities.
The PSB offers Silva an organized, well-funded party that is
relatively distanced from the corruption accusations that have
plagued other Brazilian political groups, including Rousseff's
Workers' Party, in recent years.
Some senior politicians have said privately that Silva, who
has suffered over the years from health problems including
hepatitis, seemed more comfortable in a "figurehead" role that
would allow her to pursue her passions, including environmental
issues, without worrying about other concerns like the economy.
Campos is well-regarded by business leaders, and his party
was part of Rousseff's governing coalition until earlier this
year. He broke ranks after criticizing her for excessive
intervention in Brazil's economy, which has struggled with slow
growth since Rousseff took office in early 2011.
Campos has polled only in the single digits for next year's
presidential vote, but an alliance with Silva would likely boost
his name recognition and credibility with many voters.
David Fleischer, a political analyst in Brasilia, said he
believed Campos was likely to be the PSB's presidential
candidate. He said an alliance with Silva would be "interesting"
to many voters and could be powerful enough to push the election
to a runoff.
Until Saturday, most political observers had expected Silva
to join a smaller party, and virtually no one had predicted an
alliance with Campos.