Opposition’s Presidential Candidate in Brazil Gets Boost from Poll

The latest public opinion poll shows support for Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and his bid for a second term stalling, while his Conservative rival Geraldo Alckmin steadily increases.

The DataFolha poll is the first to be published since São Paulo Governor Alckmin was named presidential candidate for the Brazilian Social-Democrat party, PSDB, and shows Lula’s support slipping from 43 to 42%, comparing February and March. Governor Alckmin jumped from 17 to 23%.

If none of the candidates next October garners a 50% majority, a run off is needed and President Lula’s support drops from 53 to 50% while governor Alckmin increases from 35 to 38%. President Lula’s rejection percentage is 33 and Alckmin’s 16.

The DataFolha poll interviewed 3.801 voters in 180 municipalities, March 16/17 with a 95% certainty.

Rio do Janeiro former governor and presidential candidate in 2002, Antony Garotinho came in third with a one point advance from 11 to 12%.

The opinion poll’s interviews were done before yet another barrage of corruption claims involving one of President Lula’s most trusted men, Finance Minister Antonio Palocci who’s accused of having received bribe money from his former aides at the municipality of Ribeirão Preto, in the interior of São Paulo state.

"He stays in the job, he’s not quitting," remarked President Lula when asked about Minister Palocci and his alleged resignation.

Apparently a network of "illegal donations, influence peddling and over billing in contracts" left by Mr. Palocci in Ribeirão Preto where he was mayor for several years is still operational.

The accuser is the landlord of a lavish residence in Brasí­lia who testified before Congress having seen Mr. Palocci and his former aides with "suitcases" of money on several occasions.

However the ruling coalition managed to temporarily stop the investigation alleging that the inquiry committee had "gone too far" since its specific purpose was discussing "corruption and money laundering in bingos".

The leading senator of the opposition PSDB Arthur Virgí­lio argued that "whoever depends for survival on silencing a landlord with 24 years experience, is no longer a minister. Palocci must resign".

"This has proved to be a government of thieves and swindlers led by the President," blasted senator for Bahia Antonio Carlos Magalhães from the Conservative Liberal Front Party.

Lula’s Workers Party was significantly debilitated last year when a ring to collect money from private and government companies to pay for support in Congress was exposed. The operation involved the leading posts in the Workers Party and close aides of President Lula leading to several resignations.

In spite of all the tension and pressure, Brazilian public opinion seemed at the time to have given President Lula another chance.

Mercopress – www.mercopress.com

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