Monday, October 18th 2010
Ms. Silva’s decision “benefits Dilma Rousseff because an endorsement of Serra was expected,” said David Fleischer, a political analyst at the University of Brasilia.
Marina Silva won 19% of the vote in the first round and said the position made public Sunday would allow the Greens to boost their support and advance the environmental agenda.
“We should place ourselves in a position as moderators,” she explained.
Dilma Rousseff of the ruling Workers' Party is narrowly ahead of the Social Democratic Party's Jose Serra in recent polls.
Ms Silva, a former environment minister, came third as expected in the election on 3 October, but her unexpectedly strong showing means there are up to 20 million votes up for grabs.
Since then Rousseff and Serra have both been courting Silva, and the Green Party has been promised ministries in whichever administration takes office. But on Sunday, Ms Silva announced at the party convention in Sao Paulo that she would endorse neither candidate.
Neutrality would give the party more influence in national debates, she said. The decision was greeted by the convention audience with a long ovation.
Some party leaders favoured declaring support for Serra, but Silva wanted those who backed her to make up their own minds. Although Marina Silva stood for the Green Party, she comes from a very different political background from most of its members, they add.
A child of rubber-tapers from the Amazonian state of Acre, Silva was illiterate until the age of 14. She worked with the rainforest activist Chico Mendes, who was murdered in 1988, and she was appointed Environment Minister when Lula da Silva won the presidency in 2002.
But she left the government in May 2008, citing difficulties in pursuing an environmental agenda. She was vocal in blaming the deforestation of the Amazon on Brazilian cattle ranchers and farmers. She is believed to have several clashes on the issue with then cabinet chief Dilma Rousseff.
Ms Silva is also a Christian evangelist, which together with the Catholic Church, have made of abortion an issue of the campaign, particularly since Ms Rousseff has deep roots in the pro-choice movement.
Political analysts argue that Ms Rousseff not-so-clear position on the abortion issue cost her the first round October 3 when she garnered 46.9% of the vote, although opinion polls anticipated she could reach the magic 50% of ballots plus one.