Rousseff's Approval at Record Low in Brazil as Economy Slips

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Dilma Rousseff’s popularity is hovering at record lows in an Ibope public opinion survey as the Brazilian president seeks support to fend off impeachment attempts and to approve austerity measures needed to shore up public accounts.

Approval of Rousseff’s management was 14 percent , compared with 15 percent in June, a drop within the plus or minus two percentage point margin of error, according to the Ibope poll commissioned by the National Confederation of Industry, or CNI. Her government was rated good or very good by 10 percent of the 2,002 people surveyed between Sept. 18 and Sept. 21, compared with 9 percent in the previous poll.

Since her re-election in October, Rousseff’s support has plummeted as she backtracked on campaign pledges and adopted tax increases and spending cuts while the economy heads for the worst contraction in decades. Her tax policy was disapproved by 90 percent of those surveyed, the poll shows.

“The only good news is there isn’t much more she can go down,” Joao Augusto de Castro Neves, Latin America director at political risk consulting firm Eurasia Group, said by phone from Washington. “Those who still support her are the hard-core, who vote for her and the Workers’ Party come rain or come shine.”

The survey comes as lower house chief Eduardo Cunha decides whether to accept requests by opposition parties to initiate impeachment proceedings. Her lack of support in the streets has fueled opposition to her government in Congress, where some lawmakers of her coalition voted against her economic plans.

Very weak approval “is a necessary element for impeachment but not sufficient,” Castro Neves said. Eurasia raised on Sept. 14 the odds Rousseff won’t finish her term to 40 percent from 30 percent.

Brazil’s economy will contract 2.8 percent and consumer prices will rise 9.46 percent this year, according to the latest central bank survey of analysts. Unemployment rose to 7.6 percent in August, the highest in more than five years.

Rousseff’s popularity will only rebound when the economy resumes job creation and inflation slows, Renato Fonseca, director of surveys at CNI, told reporters in Brasilia. “If people find jobs and are not seeing inflation accelerate, they are happy,” he said.