Brazil President Rousseff’s Approval Rating Rises to Record

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s approval rating rose to a record in March as a strong labor market and popular social policies offset a second straight year of slowing economic growth.

Rousseff’s rating rose to 79 percent in March from 78 percent in December, according to the polling firm Ibope. Of those surveyed, 63 percent approved of her government, up from 62 percent in the previous poll. Both numbers were the highest ever for her administration. The survey of 2,002 Brazilians from March 8-11 has a margin of error of two percentage points.

The 65-year-old Rousseff, who took office on Jan. 1, 2011, got the highest approval ratings for her policies to combat hunger and poverty, and the worst rating on health services, the poll distributed by the National Industry Confederation, or CNI, showed.

“The Dilma administration has maintained the focus on social issues, that generates political gains,” Renato da Fonseca, the CNI’s executive manager of surveys, told reporters in Brasilia today. “The economic slowdown hasn’t affected jobs or income.”

Brazil’s gross domestic product grew 0.9 percent last year, the second-slowest expansion in 13 years and down from 2.7 percent in 2011. Economists in the latest weekly central bank survey forecast the economy will grow 3 percent this year and 3.5 percent next year. Annualized inflation has accelerated for eight straight months to 6.31 percent in February.

Outshining Lula

For the first time, a majority of those polled viewed Rousseff’s administration to be better than that of her predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who was president from 2003-2010.

While Rousseff allowed state-owned Petroleo Brasileiro SA to boost fuel prices this year, she has also adopted tax cuts on food, lowered electricity costs and expanded social welfare benefits to eradicate extreme poverty.

Robust growth in the services sector has helped generate new jobs and keep unemployment at 5.4 percent in January, a record low for that month.

The survey of 2,002 Brazilians from March 8-11 has a margin of error of two percentage points.

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