Brazil: Despite Crisis Lula's Popularity Reaches Record High: 84%

Brazilian Lula laughing Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the president of Brazil, had a stunning 84% approval during January the highest since taking office in 2003 and the highest of any Brazilian president ever, according to the latest public opinion poll published this week in São Paulo.

Meanwhile his Chilean counterpart Michelle Bachelet is recovering from low records and now has a 53% support the second highest since December 2006 (54.3%).

In Brazil the poll was done by Sensus for the business organization National Transport Confederation (CNT) and included 2.000 interviews in 24 different states and 136 municipalities between January 26 and 30.

Lula's approval stands at 84%, disapproval at 12.2% which compares favorably with December's 80.3% and 15.2% respectively.

It's by far the highest support of the trade union leader turned president since taking office in January 2003 when he peaked 83.6%. The pollster was also Sensus.

On the other hand the Brazilian government performance received a positive approval of 72.5% and negative of 5.5%, compared to December's 71.1% and 6.4%.

"In spite of the economic crisis and growing unemployment, the popularity of Lula continues to grow, to a historic record, in the assessment of the government and his personal performance" said Clésio Andrade, CNT president.

For an overwhelming majority of Brazilians Lula remains as the "anchor of hope" in spite of the persistent problems of crime, violence and now the economic recession, added Andrade.

Meantime in Chile Ms Bachelet performance approval reached 53.1% the highest since 2006, according to private pollster Adimark.

This represents a two percentage point increase over the 51.1% of December while the disapproval index dropped from 34.7% to 30% this month, also the lowest since December 2006.

Thus the Chilean president seems to have regained the level of approval she managed during the first months of her administration, particularly since last September, indicated as the month which signaled the "official" start of global recession and when her standing was 42%.

The public opinion poll shows that 46.3% of Chileans believe the President and the Executive have addressed the economic crisis in a "very good or good" way, while 40.6% feel the performance has been below average and 13.1% describe it as "bad or very bad."

The percentage approval is higher than last November (44.4%) when the Chilean government announced a support package of 1.15 billion US dollars anticipating the possible adverse effects of the global slowdown in Chile.

Last January 5 Ms Bachelet announced another 4 billion US dollars stimulus plan targeted to prop employment and growth.

The poll also showed that the Chilean government has a 43.4% approval and 41.3% disapproval, which signals a change from the negative edge prevalent until last September.

The ministers with the best performance rates are Foreign Affairs Alejandro Foxley (52.4%) and Finance minister Andres Velasco (46.1%).

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