Sudden Death of Presidential Candidate Eduardo Campos Potentially Shakes Up Brazil's October Election

October 13, 2016

Eduardo Campos, a 2014 Brazilian presidential candidate, died in a plane crash on Wednesday. In addition to Campos, 49, four other passengers and two pilots were killed when the plane crashed in Santos, Brazil, about 35 miles south of São Paulo.2 According to air force officials, after hitting bad weather, the plane lost contact with air traffic control and was unable to land.1 Investigation is said to continue. Seven homes in the highly populated residential area were damaged as a result.2

The former two-time governor of the northeastern state of Pernambuco had been running third in the opinion polls for the upcoming October elections. He was predicted to win about 8% of the vote, and although he was not considered a likely winner, he was seen as a promising leader in Brazil’s near future.2 He was heir to the political dynasty of Pernambuco governors started with his grandfather Miguel Arraes, an exile during the military dictatorship, who died the same day as his grandson Eduardo, August 13th, 2005.5 The night before the crash Campos had been featured in an interview broadcast nationwide. He was praised for his “confident and authoritative” presence; many said he would rise in the polls as a result. There have been some financial repercussions from the crash. Brazil’s currency fell sharply upon the breaking news and the main stock index fell two percent, but rather quickly regained by midafternoon.4

His party, the Brazilian Socialist Party, offers voters a middle ground between the incumbent president’s Workers’ Party and traditional counterpart the Brazilian Social Democracy Party.2 Campos was an economist by training and was the most market-friendly candidate in the race; a supporter of private business but also education and health investment.5 He portrayed himself as a leftist but had well-known conservative social views.3

        Eduardo Campos’ running mate, Marina Silva, is expected to make the upcoming elections interesting if the party permits her to run in his place.3 Although there has been no official word from Silva that she will attempt to take the available spot on the ballot, many believe it is more than likely to occur.5 It has been reported that she planned to travel with Campos on the flight, but changed her plans early Wednesday morning to take a commercial flight instead.3 Silva joined Campos’ ticket after she was unable to meet the ballot’s requirements to pursue her own presidential run. She ran in 2010 under the Green Party and won just shy of one-fifth of the vote.2 A religious, environmental activist, Silva, 56, attracts votes from both the right and the left, stealing conservative business sector votes from Aécio Neves and the green voters from Dilma Rousseff.3 She planned to pursue a hydroelectric dam system in the Amazon, an idea that lures young voters but annoys the powerful agribusiness sector that put their support in Campos. Although her candidacy would cause some shifts in party alliances, it is predicted the vote share would increase in favor of the Brazilian Socialist Party, particularly in urban areas, grabbing votes previously believed to be taken by the incumbent.4

President Dilma Rousseff declared three days of national mourning in response to the death of the man she deemed “a great political leader.”1 Rousseff and Neves alike cancelled several reelection campaign events.3 The president released in a statement, "the whole of Brazil is in mourning. We lost a great Brazilian today, Eduardo Campos. We lost a great comrade."1 She is currently leading the race with 36% of voter support, Neves behind with about 20%. At this point, a runoff election is expected.4



1)   “Brazil presidential candidate Campos dies in air crash.” BBC. Available at:

2)   Lyons, John, Reed Johnson and Luciana Magalhaes. “Brazilian Presidential Candidate Eduardo Campos Dies in Plane Crash.” The Wall Street Journal. Available at:

3)   Romero, Simon. “Brazilian Presidential Candidate Dies in Plane Crash, Upsetting Race.” New York Times. Available at:

4)   Bonato, Gustavo. “Brazil Presidential Candidate Eduardo Campos Dies in Plane Crash.” Reuters. Available at:

5)   Philips, Dom. “Death of Presidential Candidate Shocks Brazil.” TIME. Available at:

About Author(s)

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Danielle Scalise
Danielle Scalise is a senior undergraduate at the University of Pittsburgh pursuing degrees in Economics and Political Science, with a minor Spanish and certificate in Latin American Studies. She took part in the Pitt in Cuba program in the spring of 2013 and is currently an intern for Panoramas. Danielle is attending Georgetown Law in the fall where she will study international economic law pursuing a career specializing in US/Latin American trade relations.