The popularity of Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s first woman president, climbed in December to reach 72%, almost the same level, 73%, when she took office January first 2011, according to a just-released public opinion poll from Ibope.
Rousseff, who succeeded Brazil’s most popular president in recent history, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (2003/2010) had dropped last July to 67%.
In September Ms Rousseff began to recover lost ground, even when her government was exposed to a spat of corruption allegations involving several ministers.
In effect, the cabinet inherited from Lula suffered six losses on corruption (cabinet chief, transport, labor and employment, agriculture, sports and tourism) and a seventh, Defense, who had to step down after having openly criticized his cabinet peers and Rousseff’s advisors.
The popularity of the Brazilian administration also improved: 56% consider it good (compared to 51% in September), 32% acceptable (34% three months ago) and 9% bad against 11%.
The survey contracted by the Brazilian National Industry Confederation, CNI, was done between December 2 and 5, and included 2002 interviews with an error margin of plus/minus two percentage points.
Pollsters explain that President Rousseff’s determination to weed out those cabinet members or top officials linked to corruption claims boosted her public opinion standing and demonstrated she was no longer a Lula ‘puppet.’
In effect Ms Rousseff never held an elected post but was always recognized as a top government technician and these qualities were chosen by Lula to point her out as his successor.
Undoubtedly Lula’s Midas touch in politics and his incredible popularity on stepping down (in the eighties) were crucial for Ms Rousseff victory on recommendations to voters from her political mentor.
But the Lady is also showing she has grit and nerves to run Latin America’s largest economy.