Brazil: Lula’s Popularity Is Down

 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.
by: Cecília
Jorge

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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