BRASILIA: Brazil’s most unpredictable presidential election in a generation is heading toward a photo finish on Oct. 26 between leftist incumbent Dilma Rousseff and pro-business challenger Aecio Neves, two new polls showed on Wednesday.
In an increasingly acrimonious campaign, the candidates traded accusations of lies, corruption and nepotism in a bruising television debate on Tuesday night that had no clear winner and saw more attacks than discussion of policy issues.
Neves, the market favorite, gained ground after his stronger-than-expected showing in the first-round vote on Oct. 5, when he bested environmentalist Marina Silva to place second behind Rousseff.
But Neves has struggled to build on that momentum and has been running neck-and-neck with Rousseff in opinion polls for the last week.
Neves has 45 percent of voter support against 43 percent for Rousseff, according to the identical results of the latest surveys by polling firms Datafolha and Ibope, one percentage
point less than each candidate had in previous polls six days ago.
The difference between the two is statistically insignificant because it is within the margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points in both polls. Excluding undecided voters, spoiled and blank survey responses, Neves has 51 percent against 49 percent for Rousseff, the same as last week.
“We are heading for a photo finish,” said Andre Cesar, a political analyst in Brasilia, who expects the remaining three debates before the vote to get rougher.
“If no candidate slips up badly in the next debates, their numbers won’t change much.”