The life story of Brazil’s Marina Silva is so unlikely that she explains key moments as the result of divine intervention. Among the most dramatic and potentially life-changing of all the unlikely turns came last week, when a private plane in which she was supposed to be traveling crashed, killing Socialist Party presidential candidate Eduardo Campos and suddenly turning her into a formidable contender for the presidency of Brazil.
Silva, a charismatic environmental activist and former environment minister with an ideology that does not fit neatly into any single current, was Campos’ running mate on the Socialist Party ticket for the October presidential elections. Her spot as vice presidential candidate was a bit of a fluke. She was not a member of the Socialist Party, but her Sustainability Network Party failed to make it onto the ballot, so Campos and his party invited her to join, hoping to benefit from her charismatic style and devoted following.
The calculation appeared to have failed. Before the Aug. 13 plane crash, Campos was languishing in the polls, coming in a distant third behind the incumbent, President Dilma Rousseff of the leftist Workers’ Party, and Sen. Aecio Neves of the centrist Social Democratic Party. For the first round, Rousseff had the support of 36 percent of voters, well ahead of Neves at 21 percent, with Campos far behind with just 8 percent. Voter intention in the second round showed Rousseff winning a comfortable majority.