By Jeferson Ribeiro and Brian Winter
BRASILIA/SAO PAULO, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Two of Brazil's mostpopular opposition leaders will join forces on Saturday, a partysource told Reuters, an unexpected alliance that could pose amajor challenge to President Dilma Rousseff in next year'selection.
Marina Silva, a colorful former environment minister who isrunning second in polls for next year's vote, will announce sheis joining the PSB Party of Pernambuco state Governor EduardoCampos, a PSB source said on condition of anonymity.
It is undecided whether Silva or Campos will be the party'spresidential candidate, the source said. Several local mediaoutlets including newspaper Folha de S.Paulo said Campos waslikely to head the ticket, with Silva as the number-two.
Silva said on Twitter that she would hold a press conferencelater on Saturday.
Whoever runs, the alliance creates a center-left,business-friendly alternative to Rousseff that seemswell-positioned to cash in on growing discontent among thebusiness elite with Brazil's stagnant economy, as well aspopular unrest following a wave of anti-government streetprotests in June.
Rousseff, a pragmatic leftist, has not officially announcedher candidacy for re-election in 2014 but she currently leadspolls by a healthy margin. She retains broad support amongBrazil's poor, thanks to unemployment near record lows and herparty's success in reducing poverty over the past decade.
Silva, who grew up poor in the Amazon and worked as a maidbefore graduating from college, is very popular among youngerBrazilians, environmentally conscious voters and evangelicalChristians. She placed a strong third in the 2010 presidentialelection on the Green Party ticket, and has been rising in pollssince the June protests.
However, her bid to create a new political party failed thisweek because of legal technicalities.
The PSB offers Silva an organized, well-funded party that isrelatively distanced from the corruption accusations that haveplagued other Brazilian political groups, including Rousseff'sWorkers' Party, in recent years.
Some senior politicians have said privately that Silva, whohas suffered over the years from health problems includinghepatitis, seemed more comfortable in a "figurehead" role thatwould allow her to pursue her passions, including environmentalissues, without worrying about other concerns like the economy.
Campos is well-regarded by business leaders, and his partywas part of Rousseff's governing coalition until earlier thisyear. He broke ranks after criticizing her for excessiveintervention in Brazil's economy, which has struggled with slowgrowth since Rousseff took office in early 2011.
Campos has polled only in the single digits for next year'spresidential vote, but an alliance with Silva would likely boosthis name recognition and credibility with many voters.
David Fleischer, a political analyst in Brasilia, said hebelieved Campos was likely to be the PSB's presidentialcandidate. He said an alliance with Silva would be "interesting"to many voters and could be powerful enough to push the electionto a runoff.
Until Saturday, most political observers had expected Silvato join a smaller party, and virtually no one had predicted analliance with Campos.
- Politics & Government
- Dilma Rousseff
- Marina Silva