The high popularity of Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva – a record 64% of Brazilians consider his administration good or excellent, according to the latest DataFolha poll – has encouraged legislators from the allied base in the government to propose a constitutional amendment that would keep Lula in power for two extra years beyond the two four-year terms he was elected for.
The Brazilian congressmen wish not only to extend Lula's presidency to 2012 but also do the same to governors, House representatives and senators. Starting in 2012 everyone elected for any of these posts would stay in power for five years and would be forbidden to seek reelection.
One of the authors of the idea, congressman Devanir Ribeiro, from the ruling Workers Party (PT) argues that the change would eliminate the present system in which voters go to the polls every two years.
"We need someone strong, the president has this popularity," says Ribeiro. "Brazil needs a man like him. In the two years that we legislators have left,Â we won't be able to foster political reform. So, this idea might end the paralysis that befalls the country every two years due to the elections."
When Ribeiro proposed last year a referendum to allow Lula to run for a third term of office (the constitution was amended during the presidency of Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Lula's predecessor, so that Cardoso could be reelected) leaders of the Workers Party called the suggestion an "antidemocratic tactic."
The DataFolha results, which are released in the wake of the publication that Brazil had a 6% GDP growth in the first half of the year,Â show for the first time ever Lula with a majority support among people with a college degree (55%), among families whose earnings are above 10 minimum wages, among the Southeast population, the largest (57%) and finally among the metropolitan areas (57%).
The new poll shows Lula's popularity at its highest level since he took office in 2003. DataFolha polled 2,981 people over the age of 16 in 212 Brazilian cities, between September 8 and September 11. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.
DataFolha also showed how recent Brazilian presidents fared, presenting the best evaluation each of them had during their term in office:
Fernando Collor de Mello, who resigned to avoid impeachment (1990-1992): 36%
Itamar Franco (1992-1994): 41%
Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1995-1998): 47%
Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1999-2002): 31%
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (2003-2006): 53%
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (2007-2010): 64%