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Marina Silva mourns at the coffin of Eduardo Campos in Recife on Saturday
Marina Silva, an environmentalist from a poor rubber-tapping family, is set to be named by the Brazilian Socialist Party next week as its presidential candidate, replacing Eduardo Campos who was killed in a plane crash last week.
Members of the PSB party said over the weekend that the decision to back Mr Campos’s running mate was sealed but would only be officially announced when the party convenes next Wednesday, leaving Brazil more time to mourn the death of one of its up-and-coming political stars.
While some analysts have suggested Marina could pick Mr Campos’s grieving wife to run alongside her for vice-president, PSB congressman Beto Albuquerque has become the favourite to take that position, according to local media.
Tens of thousands of Brazilians turned out on Sunday in Mr Campos’s native city of Recife to pay their respects to the presidential candidate who died when his private jet crashed during bad weather on Wednesday morning, also killing four of his assistants and the two pilots.
“We will not give up on Brazil,” shouted his fans, repeating one of the last phrases Mr Campos said in a television interview the night before he died. Three of his five children held up placards with the same phrase as they accompanied his coffin on the top of a fire engine in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Senior politicians attended the funeral service, including President Dilma Rousseff. She was booed by some in the crowd in a repeat of the humiliating reception she received at the World Cup this year.
While 49-year-old Mr Campos would have struggled to win presidential elections in October this year, many thought he was capable of leading in the future and his death has been treated as a national tragedy. It has also changed the dynamics for the election.
Ms Silva, who won nearly 20 per cent of the vote when she ran as the Green Party’s presidential candidate in 2010, already has a wide national support base and has a higher chance of being voted into office this year, analysts say.
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A staunch evangelical Christian and environmental campaigner, she has the backing of the fast-growing evangelical community, many younger Brazilians and the intellectual elite. Her struggle to overcome poverty, disease and illiteracy has widened her appeal.
As a former member of the ruling PT party, she will also be more difficult for Ms Rousseff to attack in the weeks leading up to the election.
However, Ms Silva is likely to meet tough opposition from the powerful agribusiness lobby and she has often isolated voters and fellow politicians with her tough environmental stance. She only joined Mr Campos in October last year after she failed to set up her own party, the Rede Sustentabilidade (Sustainable Network), in time, and had viewed her participation as a test-run for future elections.
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