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Rousseff Approval Rating Plummets After Mass Brazil Protest

Wednesday, 18 Mar 2015 10:45 AM

President Dilma Rousseff's approval plummeted to a record low after more than 1 million people demonstrated on Sunday against corruption and economic austerity measures.

Rousseff, 67, was rated good or very good by 13 percent of respondents in the two days after the protest, down from 23 percent in a Feb. 3-5 poll, according to a Datafolha poll published by Folha de Sao Paulo's website. It is the lowest level since she took office in 2011. Her disapproval rating is the highest of any president in more than two decades.

"She has lost all political capital," Marcos Troyjo, who teaches and co-heads a forum on emerging markets at Columbia University in New York, said by phone from Sao Paulo. "It will be an uphill battle for her to rebuild support in Congress and approve her economic measures."

Rousseff's administration is facing mounting opposition on the streets and in Congress following allegations her party benefited from kickbacks at state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA, an allegation it denies. The president on Wednesday will announce a series of anti-corruption measures and her aides have discussed the approval of economic proposals with congressional leaders since Sunday.

The government is raising taxes and cutting spending as a means to shrink the budget deficit and avert a downgrade to its sovereign credit rating after years of ballooning spending and subsidized lending. Congress has balked at proposals to cut pension and labor benefits.

The scandal has crimped investments in the energy and construction industries, exacerbating an economic slowdown.

Gross domestic product will contract 0.8 percent and inflation will accelerate to an above-target 7.9 percent this year, according to the latest central bank survey of analysts.

The Datafolha poll shows 62 percent of respondents rank Rousseff's government as bad or terrible, up from 44 percent in February and the worst since the administration of Fernando Collor, who resigned in 1992 amid corruption allegations. The poll of 2,842 people conducted March 16-17 has a margin of error of two percentage points.

She is also considering changes to her cabinet to accommodate demands from her main coalition partner, the PMDB party, local media including newspaper Estado de Sao Paulo reported today.

More than 1 million people protested on Sunday in cities throughout Brazil. Of those surveyed by Datafolha in Sao Paulo that day, 27 percent cited impeachment as the main reason for their attendance, Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper reported on Tuesday. Nearly half went to the streets to speak out against corruption, according to the poll that surveyed 432 people and has a margin of error of five percentage points.

After the protests, several congressional leaders said there are no legal grounds to impeach Rousseff, and Eurasia Group consulting firm said many members of Congress prefer to benefit from a weak president than oust her.

"If Dilma did something illegal, she will have to answer and be punished after the end of her second term," lower house President Eduardo Cunha said in an interview with TV Cultura that aired Monday night. "According to the Constitution, she has immunity until the end of this mandate."

Rousseff said this week she was open to dialogue with anybody, adding she may have made some mistakes on economic policy. Her party denies allegations of corruption and says all donations were legal.

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President Dilma Rousseff's approval plummeted to a record low after more than 1 million people demonstrated on Sunday against corruption and economic austerity measures.
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