Rousseff Suffers Setback as Allies Break in Brazil Congress

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Brazil’s lower house of Congress voted for spending increases hours after two parties broke from President Dilma Rousseff’s ruling coalition, further eroding support for her measures to shore up the country’s fiscal accounts.

The lower house approved in a first round vote a constitutional amendment by 445 against 16 votes granting salary increases to police chiefs, prosecutors and government attorneys. The bill still needs to pass a second round vote before going to the Senate.

Earlier, leaders of the Brazilian Labor Party and the Democratic Labor Party, or PTB and PDT, said they would act independently and no longer participate in meetings of the ruling coalition. The parties together have 44 out of 513 seats in the Chamber.

This Thursday a Datafolha poll showed Rousseff’s popularity fell to the lowest on record for a Brazilian president. Support for the start of impeachment proceedings increased, the poll published by Folha de S. Paulo shows.

“We are declaring our independence,” said Andre Figueiredo, leader of the PDT in the lower house. “We will vote with the government only on proposals that are good for Brazil.” Jovair Arantes, leader of the PTB, said the party would no longer automatically vote with the government because it wants independence regarding its “political survival.”

Rebuild Coalition

The split is a setback for the Rousseff administration in the first week after legislators returned from recess to vote on a series of spending bills that could make or break Finance Minister Joaquim Levy’s already watered down target for budget savings this year. Last month the head of the lower house, Eduardo Cunha, abandoned the Rousseff alliance.

“We need to rebuild the coalition,” said Jose Guimaraes, government leader in the Chamber of Deputies.

Rousseff’s approval rating is at 8 percent, down from 10 percent in June, according to the Aug. 4-5 survey. Of the 3,358 people surveyed, 66 percent said Congress should open impeachment proceedings, up from 63 percent in April. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points.

The popularity of Rousseff, who faces opposition attempts to impeach her over alleged doctoring of 2014 budget accounts, was also at a record low in an MDA poll conducted in July.

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