In Brazil public opinion is split almost in half on the re-election of Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva for a second period, giving him a third consecutive 4-year mandate, according to the latest poll published in São Paulo.
Lula one of Brazil's most popular leaders in decades has a support of 69% of the population, a record high, but a constitutional reform would needed if he is to run again in 2010.
The poll based on interviews done during May, not only shows a solid support for the president, but also growing confidence in the package of measures implemented by his administration to combat the global economic slowdown and re-launch the domestic economy, Latin America's largest.
The DataFolha poll shows that 47% of interviewees favor a third running four years for Lula while 49% are against the initiative. The poll has a plus/minus margin of 2 percentage points. In November 2007 a similar hypothesis only had 34% approval while an overwhelming majority, 67%, rejected the initiative, points out DataFolha.
In a hypothetical 2010 scenario between leader of the opposition and São Paulo governor, José Serra, President Lula would be re-re-elected with 47% support of vote intention in the first round with no need for a run-off. However without Lula, including his hand picked successor Dilma Rousseff, Serra is the clear winner.
"Numbers clearly indicate the popularity of President Lula," said Mauro Paulino, head of DataFolha.
Paulino also pointed out that among the 69% who support and approve his performance, 37% are against him running for another consecutive period. "This means there's resistance even among Lula's voters and this is an indication of possible erosion…"
Last week a draft proposal for a possible third consecutive period for president, governors and mayors was presented before the Brazilian congress and had the necessary support for its presentation. However last Friday the Constitutional Amendment Proposal could not collect the necessary signatures for its discussion in the Lower House.
Consequently the proposal was back on the desk of its promoter Deputy Jackson Barreto, from the Movimento Democrático Brasileiro, PMDB President Lula's main ally in Congress.
Lula has repeatedly rejected the possibility of running for a third period in 2010, but since his chosen heir Ms Rousseff is suffering from lymphatic cancer the Workers Party is becoming increasingly anxious about the future.
Under the current Brazilian constitution presidents can only be consecutively re-elected once. Nothing impedes President Lula running again but in 2014, if he so is willing and has the necessary support.