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Brazzil - Politics - June 2004

Brazil: Lula's Popularity Is Down

What happened to Brazilian President Lula campaign promise
to double the purchasing power of the Brazilian minimum wage?
Lula has been involved in a fight with Congress to get a smaller
not a bigger salary to workers. The government says, however,
that the workers' purchasing power is the highest in 12 years.

Cecília Jorge


Picture The Brazilian government got approval of its minimum wage proposal of US$ 83.30 (260 reais) in the Chamber of Deputies when the Lower House rejected a proposal by the Senate to raise the minimum wage to US$ 88.10 (275 reais).

The government victory in the Chamber of Deputies shows that it has solid support there, which is not the case in the Senate, says the minister of Political Coordination, Aldo Rebelo.

The minister went on to admit that it was going to be necessary to do some work to build up a majority in the Senate.

"It will require an effort to get a workable majority [in the Senate]," the minister said. "This is not something that is foreordained. We will just have to work for it, negotiate politically. It will require persistence and persuasion."

As for the Lula campaign promise to double the purchasing power of the minimum wage during his term of office, Rebelo declared that the promise remains in force. "We are committed to that," he declared.

Rebelo pointed out that with the US$ 83.30 minimum wage, its purchasing power is the highest it has been in 12 years. He added that the best recipe for increasing the value of the minimum wage was renewed economic growth.

With regard to the idea of disconnecting the minimum wage and social security benefits, Rebelo said it was just an idea. "For the time being, it is not really being considered," he said.

Declining Popularity

The Sensus Institute survey released this week by the National Transportation Confederation (CNT) reveals a six percentage-point decline in President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's personal performance rating, compared with May's results. His approval index fell from 60.2 percent to 54.1 percent.

The interviewees regarded the war on unemployment as Lula's principal campaign promise. This theme also represents the chief concern for nearly 67 percent of the sample, followed by income and health. The study also found that 58.9 percent believe that the government has done less than it could have.

The Administration's official trips abroad are currently viewed in a less favorable light. In December, 2003, 52.5 percent affirmed that these trips were important and productive for the country. At present 43.2 percent hold this view.

The purchase of a new Presidential aircraft received the disapproval of 65.8 percent. Around 25 percent approved the move, while 5 percent expressed indifference.

Despite its wide repercussion in the press, the Federal Police's Operation Vampire, which discovered frauds in the acquisition of medications by the Ministry of Health, is ignored by 45.6 percent of those interviewed. For nearly 80 percent of the sample, corruption is a frequent occurrence in government bidding processes.

The survey was carried out by the Sensus Institute between June 15 and 17, in 195 municipalities. Two thousand people were interviewed. There is a 3 percent margin of error, in both directions.

Cecília Jorge works for Agência Brasil (AB), the official press agency of the Brazilian government. Comments are welcome at lia@radiobras.gov.br.
Translated from the Portuguese by David Silberstein.

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