Dilma Rouseff’s political future is increasingly coming into question. A new poll released yesterday shows a sharp deterioration in her popularity, with her economic team getting similarly dismal marks from frustrated voters. Reuters:
The share of people who consider Rousseff’s administration “great” or “good” plummeted to 30 percent from 57 percent in early June, according to a Datafolha opinion poll published in local newspaper Folha de S.Paulo.The drop was the sharpest for a Brazilian leader since 1990, when Fernando Collor outraged the population by freezing all savings accounts in a desperate attempt to stop hyperinflation. Two years later, Collor resigned the presidency as Congress moved to impeach him over corruption allegations. […]The approval rating of Rousseff’s economic team, led by Finance Minister Guido Mantega and central bank president Alexandre Tombini, dropped to 27 percent from 49 percent.
Brazil historically has been a country of mood swings, going from elation and confidence to deep gloom and depression. With both the World Cup and the Olympics on their way, Brazilians should be on a high. That they aren’t, and that spending on these events is part of the criticism the administration faces, has to be worrying President Roussef’s team.Since President Cardoso secured modern Brazilian democracy by ending inflation, Brazil has led something of a charmed life. World economic conditions were mostly favorable, thanks in large part to the Asian commodity boom, and with President Lula and President Roussef the country had immensely popular leaders. For the first time, Brazilian social policy has begun to do something for the country’s poor.But the rent seeking economic and political powers who’ve held Brazil back in the past seem to have entrenched themselves back in government planning and power, and a revolution of rising expectations has made many people less patient at just the time when patience is all the government has to suggest.The effort to liberalize Brazil’s economy in order to improve conditions for the poor is a noble one, but particularly given the nature of Brazilian political economy it is hard to do that without slipping into some bad old habits. The Brazilian miracle is getting harder to manage as it matures, and President Roussef may face a tougher job than she expected.[Photo of Brazilian street protests, courtesy Getty Images.]