Brazil: It’s the Economy, Mr. Lula

 Brazil: It's the Economy, Mr. Lula

Lula’s popularity is eroding in Brazil, but for all the bad press,
the majority of Brazilians still
consider Lula a better leader than
his predecessor. When asked to compare Lula and Cardoso, 55
percent
say the new president comes ahead. Only 15 percent
consider this government worse than that
of Cardoso.

by:
Elma-Lia Nascimento

 

Brazilians have told pollsters earlier this year that they would give Lula and his administration an extended vote of
confidence while the President tried to clean house. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was inaugurated January
1st. Nine months later, the special good-will truce seems to be up. The latest poll is out and Ibope,
Brazil’s most trusted pollster company, concluded that the Brazilian
population has changed from a stance of “high optimism” to “a more
apprehensive posture concerning the economy.”

People seem mostly concerned with unemployment
and low income. The number of those who disapprove of the way unemployment is
being dealt with has risen to 52 percent. Only 41 percent of the voters are
still confident in the present policies. There was the same number of doubters
when the subject is public security.

The survey done in partnership with CNI (Confederação Nacional da Indústria—Industry National Confederation)
heard 2,000 voters in 147 municipalities from September 18 to 22, a period in which the Central Bank reduced interest rates
and the government had some substantial victories in Congress with its proposed pension and tax reforms. The results show
that voters still want the same things they elected Lula for: to get a job and improve their income.

According to the CNI/Ibope quarterly survey, the positive balance of the administration, which was 62 percent in
March, has fallen to 52 percent in June and now to 45 percent in September. In the short period of six months, the government
saw an erosion of 17 points in its positivemeter, which is the difference between the approval and disapproval indexes.

While the level of confidence in Lula is still high (70 percent), this number has fallen 6 points since June and 10
points since March, when the index was 80 percent.

In another survey conducted by Datafolha Institute from August 20 to 23, Lula had a 45 percent approval rate and
his government was considered regular by 42 percent of those interviewed and bad or very bad by 11 percent. This survey
showed that Lula’s approval rate after eight months in office was similar to that of Fernando Henrique Cardoso, the previous
President, after two years in the job. Datafolha showed Cardoso at that time—December 1996—with 47 percent of approval.

The Ibope numbers, for the most part, are still looking quite good. Lula got a 6.7 score (in June he had received a
6.9 mark), when interviewees were asked to grade him from 0 to 10. Most Brazilians don’t seem disappointed with the
general performance of their President. His administration is better than expected for 38 percent of the population, while 37
percent believe he is doing just as expected and 21 percent opine that he is in worse shape than anticipated.

For all the bad press, the majority of Brazilians still consider Lula a better leader than his predecessor. When asked
to compare the administrations of Lula and Cardoso, 55 percent say the new President comes ahead. Only 15 percent
consider this government worse than that of Cardoso. When asked for whom they would vote if the October 2003 elections were
repeated with the same candidates, 52 percent checked Lula. In March, 64 percent had chosen his name.

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