TUESDAY, JUNE 3, 2014
RIO DE JANEIRO–The Brazilian people have grown deeply unhappy with the economy, their leaders and the direction of their country over the past year, a public-opinion survey by the Pew Research Center revealed Tuesday.
For the first time since Pew began taking an annual pulse of Brazilian public opinion in 2010, a majority of survey respondents in the South American country said the economy is bad. Dissatisfaction “with things in Brazil today” rose to 72% this spring from 55% a year earlier, and disapproval of President Dilma Rousseff, who comes up for re-election in October, is widespread.
“The national mood in Brazil is grim,” Pew said in a report based on the survey, which was done in April and has a 3.8% margin of error. “The current level of frustration Brazilians express with their country’s direction, its economy and its leaders is unmatched in recent years.”
Though unemployment remains low, economic growth in Brazil has stalled since the end of 2010, growing less than 3% a year. Inflation has hovered around 6%, well above the authorities’ target. And social unrest has festered in the past year, with millions of demonstrators taking to the streets in protest of corruption and poor public services and thousands of public-sector workers going on strike in recent weeks.
Of Pew’s survey respondents, 67% said the current economic situation is bad, up from 41% in the spring of 2013. Rising prices were cited by 85% as “a very big problem,” topping a list that included crime, corrupt politicians and the gap between rich and poor.
The negative sentiment weighed on the president’s approval ratings. Just 48% of survey respondents said Ms. Rousseff is a good influence on Brazil, compared with 84% who said that about her predecessor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, during his final year in office.
Large majorities also disapproved of Ms. Rousseff’s handling of key issues including corruption, health care, the economy and World Cup preparations.
Echoing a central message of street protesters, 61% of Brazilians say hosting the World Cup is a “bad thing because it takes money away from public services,” while only 34% said the tournament will be “a good thing because it creates jobs.”
Despite the overwhelming dissatisfaction with Brazil’s state of affairs, the Pew survey delivered an unclear outlook for presidential elections later this year.
Around half of survey respondents expressed an unfavorable opinion of all three main candidates–Ms. Rousseff and likely challengers Aécio Neves and Eduardo Campos. But while 51% said they have a favorable opinion of Ms. Rousseff, around one in four declined to offer an opinion of Mr. Neves or Mr. Campos, suggesting that low name recognition continues to hamper both politicians.
And approval of Bolsa Familia, a hallmark social program expanded by Ms. Rousseff’s Workers’ Party during its nearly 12 years in power, remains widespread at 75%.
Ms. Rousseff announced a 10% increase to the program in late April.