Rousseff among most popular Brazil presidents -poll

BRASILIA (Reuters) – President Dilma Rousseff is among the most popular presidents in Brazil’s recent history based on their approval ratings three months into office, an opinion poll showed yesterday.

Brazil’s first female president has an approval rating of 73 per cent, according to an opinion survey by Ibope polling firm released by the National Industry Confederation, or CNI.

That is the second-highest rating for any president’s third month in office since Brazil’s return to democracy in 1985.

The former career civil servant trailed only her predecessor and mentor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who had 75 per cent support in March 2003.

The results suggest a series of austerity measures Rousseff adopted in February to help contain a rising budget deficit have had little impact on her popularity.

Only 12 per cent of the population disapprove of Rousseff.

Her centre-left ruling coalition cut spending by $30 billion, capped minimum salary increases and froze the hiring of civil servants.

But Rousseff managed to cling to some of Lula’s huge popularity in spite of a much lower profile, said Renato da Fonseca, head of the CNI research department.

“The Dilma government still carries the positive ratings of the Lula administration,” Fonseca said.

For the survey, Ibope asked 2,000 people between March 20 and March 23. The margin of error was 2 percentage points.

Rousseff’s administration failed to get a majority approval rating only on the issues of taxes, public security, and interest rates.

The central bank has twice raised its benchmark interest rate this year to help combat inflation, while Rousseff has watered down plans to overhaul an unwieldy tax system.

Unlike Lula, who enthralled the crowds with his folksy charm, Rousseff is rather media-shy and often fails to connect with her audience.

Still, many middle-class voters appreciate her serious, diligent demeanor, and 74 per cent of those polled say they trust her.

An economic slowdown to around 4 percent this year from 7.5 per cent growth last year may yet sour public opinion.

But so far, 68 per cent of those polled believe the remainder of the Rousseff presidency will be good or very good, up from 62 per cent before she took office on Jan. 1.

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