If Brazilians in Atlanta had sole power to pick their country’s new president, the upcoming Oct. 26 runoff wouldn’t even be close.
Pro-business candidate Aecio Neves, a senator from the Minas Gerais state, won 56 percent of the 2,144 votes cast by expatriate Brazilians at the local consulate general Oct. 5, according to data from Brazil’s election tribunal provided to Global Atlanta.
That compares to just 8.4 percent who picked the incumbent, Dilma Rousseff of the Workers’ Party, who has presided over a recent slowdown in the emerging economy of 200 million people. In Brazil, Ms. Rousseff won 41 percent to Mr. Neves’s 33 percent, allowing both to survive till this Sunday’s runoff.
Flavio Castro, a master’s student from Brasilia at Georgia Tech, had to file paperwork to be able to vote remotely from Atlanta. He voted for Mr. Neves because he believes the economy is sputtering.
“Their denial of the existence of the problem implies they won’t change their policies, which are the cause of it,” Mr. Castro said of Dilma’s government. “Some people, blindly think that Brazil can only decrease poverty/inequality under the Workers’ party government. Everyone knows economy is bad, inflation is high and it’s hard to find jobs.”
Marina Silva, widely seen as the wildcard in this election, netted 21 percent of the vote in Brazil, ending a bid that picked up momentum after she stepped up to replace Eduardo Campos, a promising Socialist Party candidate who died in plane crash in August. In Atlanta, however, Ms. Silva fared much better, gaining 31 percent of the vote.
More than 112,000 Brazilians living in the U.S. are eligible to vote in the elections. At home in Brazil, about 115 million went to the polls for the initial vote.
The matchup between Ms. Rousseff and Mr. Neves is shaping up to be one of Brazil’s closest elections in recent history after Neves scooped up the endorsement of the party that had launched Ms. Silva’s bid.
Ms. Rousseff, the president, is generally seen as stronger than Neves on social programs, though her government was the target of widespread protests around the country in the year leading up to the 2014 World Cup soccer tournament, as protesters demanded what they called “FIFA-quality” schools, public transportation and health care.
Mr. Neves, who leads the Social Democratic Party, is largely supported by the markets and foreign business interests, which could explain why he had such a strong showing among expats in Atlanta. He has made the case that he would preserve some popular social programs that have helped raise millions of Brazilians out of poverty while trimming bureaucracy and instituting reforms that he says would bring the country back from the brink of economic stagnation.
The challenger has this week fallen behind in the polls, which saw Ms. Rousseff consolidating a lead for the first time, but the election is still much too close to call.