RIO DE JANEIRO – Environmentalist Marina Silva announced Wednesday that she will be the new presidential candidate for Brazil's Socialist Party a week after its previous candidate was killed in a plane crash.
Silva, who had been Eduardo Campos' vice presidential running mate, met with members of the party in Brasilia who officially approved her as the new candidate.
The decision was widely expected. Party members and Silva's associates had said over the weekend that the main leaders had already chosen her to run in Campos' place.
The party also announced that Beto Albuquerque, who heads the party in the House of Representatives, will be Silva's running mate.
Campos had been polling in a distant third behind President Dilma Rousseff of the Workers Party and the centrist candidate, Aecio Neves. But polls since Campos' death have shown Silva is running neck and neck with Neves.
Silva, 56, was environment minister from 2003 to 2008 under Rousseff's predecessor as president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. She won international praise for her work preserving Brazil's Amazon rainforest.
But she broke with the Workers Party in 2009 to join the Green Party, which she represented in the 2010 presidential election, winning nearly 20 percent of the votes.
Many political analysts say Silva may be a stronger candidate than Campos and could at least thwart a first-round victory for Rousseff on Oct. 5. Her main support comes among Brazilians unhappy with sluggish economic growth, high taxes and poor health care and education.