RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — A Brazilian politician who opinion polls indicate could seriously challenge President Dilma Rousseff's re-election bid next year initiated on Monday the process to have her party legally recognized.
Marina Silva and fellow members of her Sustainability Network party delivered a petition for the party's legal recognition to Brazil's Electoral Tribunal. Recognition of the party is required for her to run for the presidency next year under its banner.
Under Brazilian law, the court must receive 492,000 voter signatures validated by notaries. The party turned in more than 637,000 signatures but fewer than half of them have been validated. Notaries across the country are examining the others and are expected to send the court signatures as they are approved.
The court has until Oct. 5 to legally recognize the party so Silva can run in next year's presidential race, meaning about 188,000 additional signatures must be validated before then.
Speaking to reporters, Silva said she hoped the party would be legally recognized, because "that's the hope of thousands and thousands of people in the whole country."
Opinion polls suggest Silva, a former environment minister under Rousseff's predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, has emerged stronger from the mass nationwide protests that swept the country in June and saw the popularity ratings of several top politicians plummet. While Rousseff was not directly targeted by protesters, they voiced generalized outrage and disgust at the country's political establishment, which is widely seen as systematically corrupt.
A poll earlier this month said the percentage of voters indicating they will vote for Rousseff fell from 51 percent in June to 35 percent in August. Silva's support, meanwhile, has steadily grown to 26 percent, according to the poll, which was conducted among 2,615 people by the Datafolha agency Aug. 7-9. The margin of error was plus or minus two percentage points.
Silva split with Rousseff's Workers Party in 2009 over policy differences and joined the Green Party. She ran for president in 2010 and won a surprising 20 million first-round votes, but it wasn't enough to get her to the second-round ballot.
Silva won international accolades for her efforts to help preserve Brazil's Amazon rainforest during her tenure as environment minister.