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Latest Poll, Economy Spell Bleak Outlook for Brazil's President

By Paulo Trevisani and Tom Murphy

BRASILIA--Public support for embattled Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is slipping away ahead of 2014 elections, according to a public opinion poll published Tuesday, with the leader unlikely to get any help from a stagnating economy.

A nationwide poll by the MDA research organization, conducted for Brazil's National Transport Confederation, showed support for the Rousseff administration diminishing to 31% from 54% in early June. Respondents cited inflation, corruption and deteriorating public services in their critique of the administration, now in its third year.

 

"Awareness of corruption is now very high in Brazil," said Clesio Andrade, the confederation's president. "Next year's election is now wide open."

To be sure, the poll showed Ms. Rousseff as the leader among potential candidates ahead of the presidential balloting scheduled for October 2014, with former Brazilian Green Party nominee Marina Silva in second place and Senator Aecio Neves, of the opposition Social Democrats, in third.

Political risk analysts noted that polls this far in advance of an election tend to reflect name recognition and television exposure, factors favoring the incumbent, along with voter concerns. A presidential election campaign, complete with televised debates, often boosts challengers.

In the view of Celso Roma, a political scientist associated with Brazil's National Science and Technology Institute, the president already faces "a difficult situation." As for 2014, the outlook is bleak. "There is not enough time for her to stage a comeback before the election," he said.

Deep-seated disappointment with the administration was reflected in the poll, in which 84.3% of respondents said they supported month-long protest marches occurring in over a hundred cities in June. Some 11.9% of respondents said they personally took part in the demonstrations, demanding better health, education and transport services and government measures to curb corruption.

Perhaps worst of all, from the viewpoint of Ms. Rousseff and her ruling Workers' Party, is the view of many economists and financial market analysts that Brazil's economy, already stagnating, will get worse before it gets better.

"The economy isn't going to grow more than 1% this year," said Paulo Faria-Tavares, managing partner of Sao Paulo's PTX Brazil Consultants. "At the same time, inflation will remain at, or above, the 6.5% ceiling of the government's own tolerance band, destroying purchasing power."

The administration is attempting to combat inflation, currently at 6.7%, with a combination of higher interest rates and cuts in government spending. But such measures will almost inevitably slow the economy and could result in further increases in unemployment. The country's unemployment rate is already creeping higher. It was 5.8% as of May, up from 4.6% at the end of 2012.

"The jobs market is the only remaining pillar sustaining the government," said Mr. Roma. "If that falls, the government falls."

 

Write to Tom Murphy at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and Paulo Trevisani at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Source: The Wall Street Journal - http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20130716-708567.html

Last Updated on Monday, 17 March 2014 11:04

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