Brasilia: Opposition ecologist Marina Silva remains favorite to oust incumbent Dilma Rousseff in next month`s presidential election, latest polls showed Wednesday.
A survey for polling firm Ibope predicted Socialist Party (PSB) candidate Silva would beat the Workers Party`s (PT) Rousseff by 46 to 39 percent in a second round run-off after the opening round of voting on October 5.
Silva, who served as environment minister for Dilma`s PT predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, only took on the Socialist mantle after her then running mate Eduardo Campos died in an August 13 plane crash while campaigning.
She has since seen her stock rise inexorably to make her the favorite to end a dozen years of PT rule.
The Ibope poll, which saw approval of Rousseff`s government up two points to 36 percent, was based on 2,506 respondents questioned nationwide between August 31 and September 2 with a margin of error of plus or minus two points.
After seeing Silva emerge as a serious threat, Rousseff has gone on the offensive this week in portraying Silva as unreliable and inexperienced, calling into question how she would pay for some $60 billion of poll commitments.
But Rousseff is also on the back foot over the economy, which entered recession last week on the publication of weak second quarter growth amid high inflation.
Those factors have left her with little apparent room to maneuver on the economy and the central bank on Wednesday voted to leave interest rates on hold at 11 percent for fear of potentially damaging hopes of a recovery.
After soaring growth in 2010 the world`s seventh-largest economy has since endured four years of slowdown.
Rousseff insisted she would rise to the challenges ahead if re-elected and indicated that she would "update policies and personnel" after the poll should she win.
As part of her ramping up attacks on Silva, Rousseff earlier questioned how her rival would command a majority in Congress as she lacks a wide political party base.
Rousseff compared the ecologist to former president Fernando Collor de Mello, who served from 1990 to 1992 but whose tenure ended prematurely after he came to office in part on the back of the support of smaller parties.
Silva accused Rousseff of spreading "fear" through the electorate.