Brazil's Socialists to decide on Silva candidacy next week

Brazil's Socialists to decide on Silva candidacy next week

BRASILIA (Reuters) - The party of the presidential candidate killed in a plane crash will meet on Wednesday to choose a replacement to run in the Oct. 5 election, most likely his running mate, Marina Silva, the leader of a party backing the ticket said on Friday.

Eduardo Campos was running third in recent polls for the Brazilian Socialist Party, when the executive jet carrying him to a campaign stop in the port city of Santos crashed on Wednesday after an aborted landing in bad weather.

The expected candidacy of Silva, an environmentalist who won almost 20 percent of the votes in a presidential bid in 2010, could upend the race just seven weeks before election day.

"There appears to be consensus in the party that Marina should take Eduardo's place. A meeting has been called for Wednesday Aug. 20," Roberto Freire, leader of the Popular Socialist Party, told Reuters.

Campos' death has shaken up an election campaign in which leftist President Dilma Rousseff was favored to defeat business-friendly centrist Aecio Neves to win a second-term.

Silva's candidacy is expected to deprive Rousseff of the votes she needs to avoid a bruising second-round run-off between the two best-placed candidates. A poll to be published on Monday will show whether Silva has more support than Neves.

A popular figure with young voters, Silva polled above Neves in April but was not able to register her party in time for the campaign. Campos invited her to join his ticket.

Party members see her as the natural heir to Campos, though she will need to overcome the distrust of some PSB factions that frown upon her conservationist views and anti-establishment style.

(Reporting by Eduardo Simões; Writing by Anthony Boadle; editing by Gunna Dickson)