President Rousseff sinks further in the polls


President Dilma Rousseff has found herself in further difficulties after several polls were published in recent days. In the past few weeks the President has faced large scale mass protests, a weakening of support for her from her traditional allies the trade unions and resistance from members of her coalition partners as she seeks to drive austerity measures through parliament. On top of that the President has been badly mauled by a major corruption scandal involving her Workers’ Party (PT) and the state oil company Petróleo Brasileiro S.A. or Petrobras.

Two polls have been published recently, one by Datafolha which reports every month and another commissioned by the Confederation of National Transport (CNT) and delivered by polling firm MDA. Both polls show a dramatic drop in support for the President and her government.

The CNT/MDA poll carried out a similar poll in September 2014, just before the country’s general election which Dilma Rousseff won narrowly. In September last year 23.5% of those questioned rated the Rousseff government negatively, today that figure has gone up to 64.8%. Those who rate the government as good have dropped from 41% in September 2014 to 10.8% today.

Rousseff’s personal popularity has also fallen. In September 2014 the MDA poll had her approval rating at 55.6% whereas today it is just 18.9%. The Datafolha poll also shows a drop with the President’s popularity at 23% in February and in March it was 13%. In February 44% of those questioned rated her Presidency as bad or terrible, that is now 62%. The MDA poll had 40.1% disapproving of her leadership in September 2014, but that is now at 77.7%.

MDA asked how people would vote if there was a Presidential election today. The candidate who lost in October 2014, Aécio Neves of the opposition Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB) would take 55.7% of the vote today and Rousseff would take just 16.6% of the vote.

More bad news comes with questions around the Petrobras corruption scandal. So far 103 politicians and executives have been charged with racketeering, bribery and money laundering and the period covered was also the period when the President was Chairman of the Petrobras board.

MDA asked a series of questions about the scandal. Of those interviewed 68.9% said that Rousseff was responsible for the corruption at Petrobras whilst 59.7% favour impeachment of the President. A further 65.7% don not believe that those guilty of corruption will be punished. Any impeachment proceedings would have to go through the lower house of parliament, the Chamber of Deputies and that seems unlikely. Also there seems little appetite on the part of the opposition to push for impeachment at this point.

Datafolha also asked questions about the Petrobras corruption scandal. A staggering 80% believe that Dilma Rousseff knew that corruption was taking place at Petrobras during her tenancy and 61% believe that she let it happen. Just 23% believe that she was ‘unable to do anything’ to stop it. Datafolha also asked if Petrobras should be privatised in the wake of the scandal and 61% were against such a move.

The two polls looked at the economy. A total of 92.8% are concerned about the economy and 69% believe that unemployment is bound to rise. In February 15% believed that the economy would deteriorate according to Datafolha that figure rose to 60% in March.

More detailed briefing on the politics and risk of doing business in this country is available to clients and subscribers. If you would like to know more then please contact