Brazil electoral court rejects new opposition party


By Anthony Boadle

BRASILIA, Oct 3 (Reuters) - In a decision that could boostPresident Dilma Rousseff's chances of re-election next year,Brazil's electoral court ruled on Thursday that her mainpotential rival failed to gather enough signatures to registerher new party in time.

Environmentalist Marina Silva has until Saturday to decidewhether to run on the ticket of an existing party to make hersecond bid for president next October.

The court ruled 6-1 against the creation of her party,called the Sustainability Network, because it fell short of therequired 492,000 signatures. Silva blamed electoral notariesacross Brazil for failing to validate 95,000 names on time.

After the ruling, Silva said she would announce on Fridaywhether she would run on another ticket, but added there hadbeen no talks with other parties and she planned to keep building her own party to renew Brazilian politics.

"It's only a matter of time until it gets approved. We mightnot be registered, but we have the most important thing: ethics.We will become stronger," she told reporters at the court.

Silva, 55, a former senator and environment minister, andthe daughter of rubber tappers, won 19.6 million votes to placethird in the last election in 2010, won by Rousseff.

Silva risks losing that support if she runs with anotherparty because it could undermine her image as a fresh voicewhose lack of ties to traditional Brazilian politics andreputation for honesty have appealed to young Brazilians.

"She will lose her political capital because she will looklike just another politician," said Andre César, an analyst withBrasilia-based consultancy Prospectiva Consultoria.

The Superior Electoral Court's decision is good news forRousseff, who is widely expected to seek a second term, becauseit could narrow the field and improve her chances of winningoutright with no need for a runoff if Silva does not run onanother party's ticket.

Recent opinion polls show Rousseff recovering from adramatic drop in her approval ratings following a wave ofmassive street protests in June against corruption and poorpublic services that shook Brazil's political establishment.Opinion polls have confirmed Rousseff as the clear front-runner.

Silva, the only politician to gain ground from the streetprotests, narrowed Rousseff's lead to 8 points in July, but thepresident by mid-September had pulled 22 points ahead of her.

The main opposition PSDB is expected to field Senator AecioNeves, who has failed to gain traction as a Senate leader since2010 and has fallen to 11 percent of voter intentions.

Eduardo Campos, the governor of Pernambuco state, has thrownhis hat in the ring and pulled his party out of Rousseff'scoalition government.

But his national voter support is a negligible 4 percent, ifelections were held today.

The cast of possible candidates for next year's electionshrank earlier this week when Jose Serra, who was considering athird bid for president on another party ticket, announced hewas staying in the PSDB.

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