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Brazil’s Bribery Scandal Puts a Dent on Lula’s Popularity

Two different public opinion polls show that Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva popularity has experienced some erosion because of the bribes scandal involving his administration and the ruling Workers party, but nevertheless is the favorite for next year’s presidential election.

The polls, Ibope and DataFolha were taken in the midst of revelations claiming the Lula da Silva administration was involved in bribing members of Congress to ensure political support for government sponsored legislation.


Ibope shows Mr. Lula da Silva’s popularity dropping from 60% to 56% and with DataFolha, 36% consider the president “excellent or good” and 44% average, with a slight drop compared to last May.


Even when the president’s image remains relatively unscathed, the scandal has tarnished the administration and Congress.


Ibope shows the administration approval rate dropping from 58% to 55% between March and June, with disapproval surging from 33% to 38%.


DataFolha indicates that the percentage categorizing Congress as “dreadful” has jumped from 36 to 42% between May and June, while 60% believe President Lula da Silva had nothing to do with the bribes ring.


Both opinion polls coincide that in spite of the current political situation, Mr. Lula da Silva would be re-elected “with a certain margin” if elections were held today, with the only candidate capable of making a strong showing is José Serra whom he defeated almost three years ago.


If there was a run off, according to DataFolha, Mr. Lula da Silva would defeat Mr. Serra by 46 to 40%. However Mr. Serra is not considered a presidential candidate because since last January he’s the mayor of Brazil’s largest city, São Paulo.


Ibope puts the score at 38% and 29%, with Mr. Lula da Silva defeating any other potential candidate with a solid 42%.


However both pollsters point out that “with a year before the actual beginning of the presidential campaign, opposition candidates remain undefined benefiting the incumbent chances”.


Ibope interviewed 2.124 people in 134 Brazilian cities last Wednesday and Thursday, while DataFolha, 2002 voters in 134 cities between June 9 and 13.


President Lula da Silva during an official ceremony Friday morning said that the government targets are above “personal objectives”.


“It would be pettiness to only think in elections; you can only think big when you leave aside personal interests”, emphasized the Brazilian president.


On Thursday the president’s main political advisor and mastermind behind the Workers Party overwhelming victory in October 2004, José Dirceu resigned announcing he would return to Congress to defend “the President and the party”.


A similar decision was taken by Deputy Roberto Jefferson who made the public accusations, specifically targeting Mr. Dirceu, but still has to show solid evidence.


In spite of being confirmed as president of his small fraction, Brazilian Labor Party, Mr. Jefferson said he was resigning so as not to involve “the colors of my party”.


Dirceu, Jefferson plus several cabinet ministers are scheduled to be questioned by a Congressional Ethics Committee in the coming weeks.


Mercopress – www.mercopress.com

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