Brazilian presidential candidate Eduardo Campos, a rising political star in the country, was killed yesterday morning along with six others in a plane crash in Santos, São Paulo state.
Campos was a longshot candidate in this year’s presidential elections (polls showed him at around 8 percent support), yet he was seen as a significant figure for the future of Brazilian politics. By running as a moderate third way populist, he broke from the ideological polarization between Brazil’s Workers’ Party (PT) and the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB). As political analyst Marcos Nobre notes in an interview published in Folha today, his candidacy was more about raising his profile as a credible PT/PSDB alternative in 2018 than in 2014.
Campos was also known for making unique contributions to the policy debate ahead of the October vote. As news site Ponte reports, the former Pernambuco governor was a supporter of implementing a form of his highly successful security strategy, the “Pact for Life,” on a nationwide scale. The plan, which integrated crime prevention methods with improved police intelligence, led to a 66 percent drop in homicides in the state capital of Recife under his 7-year term.
The news of his death has shaken his opponents, President Dilma Rousseff and Aecio Neves, both of whom have temporarily suspended their campaign agendas out of respect for the tragedy.
The Brazilian and international media, however, have shown no qualms about reporting on the political ramifications of Campos’ death. Almost immediately after the crash, speculation began over who might replace the Socialist Party (PSB) candidate.
The most likely candidate is his running mate, environmentalist Marina Silva. As The Economist points out, polls suggest her favorability rating is some 15-20 percent greater than Campos’. But as O Globo reports, she has little influence over Campos’ party, having only affiliated her Sustainability Network with the PSB in October 2013 after failing to get the necessary signatures to register as an official party. Folha notes that the PSB now has ten days to name a successor to Campos, though both the Neves and Rousseff camps are reportedly operating under the assumption that it will inevitably pick Silva.
Today’s New York Times has more on the incident and the changed electoral landscape, also noting the historical coincidence of Campos’ death: it happened on the same calendar day as the passing of his grandfather Miguel Arraes, a hero of Brazil's pre-coup left. The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, makes the case for Silva’s likely candidacy to take away support from Rousseff, making a runoff vote increasingly likely.
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