- Title: BRAZIL: Election campaign hits TV screens
- Date: 19th August 2010
- Summary: ROUSSEFF'S POLITICAL AD BANNER
- Embargoed: 3rd September 2010 13:00
- Location: Brazil
- Country: Brazil
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAB4N6ZXRZG01AF2NIGB3DBNZ4W
- Story Text: Brazil's presidential contenders took to the airwaves on Tuesday (August 17) with free advertisements in what may be opposition candidate Jose Serra's last chance to reverse a rapid slide in opinion polls.
The ruling party's Dilma Rousseff raced to her biggest poll lead yet this week ahead of the Oct. 3 vote, raising the odds she could become Brazil's first woman president without a second, run-off vote at the end of October.
In a country where print media and Internet have a relatively low penetration, both sides believe the six-week TV and radio campaign that began on Tuesday can help them.
Political analyst Ricardo Ismael said the ads would be crucial in defining if there would be a run-off vote.
"It's hard to know if in this case, in this year's presidential elections, we are going to have an overturn or a situation that will still change significantly. Anyway, there is something certain: the elections' advertisement on the television and on the radio will define if there will be one or two voting rounds," he said.
Until the end of September, all radio and TV networks are obliged by electoral law to broadcast two 50-minute blocks of advertisements each day, as well as a dozen 30-second ads throughout the day.
An estimated 70 percent of voters will see the ads, but only 10 percent will decide their vote based on them, pollsters say.
Ismael said the television was by far the most popular media in the country and would influence voters.
"Most of the public will get information (from the TV) and will track the elections through the television," he said.
Serra's ads on Tuesday tried to showcase his managerial experience and give the often dour-faced 68-year-old a warmer, common touch.
He steered clear of outright attacks against the Lula administration, saying simply that he would be his successor and Brazil could do better in health, education, public security and transportation.
Rousseff, Lula's former chief of staff, was portrayed as compassionate and upbeat, part of her campaign's attempt to "soften" her image as a tough, former left-wing activist.
The 62-year-old candidate has undergone plastic surgery, ditched her spectacles, and hired a hair stylist to break with her image as a dull bureaucrat.
Secretary Sandra Leparoti said she was not happy with the candidates and refused to watch the campaigns.
"I have no intention to watch it because I don't have any candidates," she said.
Sales supervisor Jonas Colares said both Rousseff and Serra were relying too heavily on on Lula's image.
"I think they were too focused on President Lula's administration -- Serra used Lula's image in his advertisement and Dilma used him as a background for her campaign," he said.
Hugely popular Lula, who has portrayed Rousseff as a mother of the nation with economic expertise and social concern, is taking a major role in her campaign and appeared prominently in her TV slot.
Green Party's candidate Marina Silva, who trails a distant third place, had nearly one and a half minutes in the series of ads.
Her campaign showed images of dumpsters, floods, hurricanes and other disasters and environmental problems as she promoted clean government and sustainable development.
Even though both Serra and Rousseff favor a strong government hand in the economy, neither is seen as breaking with Lula's mostly market-friendly policies that have ensured years of strong economic growth.
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