Pressure mounting in Brazil

2014-06-03 19:00
Pantanal Arena, Brazil. Photograph: Getty Images. ~ Getty Images

Sao Paulo - A survey released on Tuesday paints a grim picture of Brazil as it gears up to host the World Cup, showing widespread frustration with the economy and with President Dilma Rousseff.

The level of general dissatisfaction in Brazil is 72 percent according to the poll by the Washington-based Pew Research Center. That is up from 55 percent a year earlier in a Pew survey that was taken just before the largest street protests in two decades broke out.

Six in 10 respondents said hosting the World Cup, which starts next week, is bad for Brazil, taking the view that the billions of dollars poured into the soccer tournament would be better spent on services such as healthcare, schools and public transportation.

The findings dovetail with other recent surveys by Brazilian pollsters, which have also shown that support for the World Cup has eroded over the past couple of years as Brazil's government has failed to deliver promised roads, airports and many other investments that could have yielded long-term benefits.

In the Pew survey, respondents were less pessimistic about how the World Cup would be seen overseas, with 39 percent saying it would hurt Brazil's image abroad and 35 percent saying it would help. The month-long tournament kicks off on 12 June at a controversial new stadium in Sao Paulo.

The Pew Center found Brazilians were particularly worried about their country's economy, which has slowed to a crawl in the last three years after a decade-long boom. Two-thirds say the economy is in bad shape, while just 32 percent believe things are going well.

That is an about-face from a year ago, when 59 percent thought the country was in good shape economically. Hopes that the World Cup would provide a much-needed boost have also faded, with data on Friday showing gross domestic product barely grew in the first quarter.

Inflation, an age-old villain in Brazil, is considered the top economic problem, the survey found. That could be bad news for President Rousseff, who is up for re-election in October. Crime, health care and political corruption topped the list of non-economic concerns in the poll.

Under half, or 48 percent, of Brazilians said they believe Rousseff is exerting a "good influence" on Brazil and 52 percent described her influence as "bad". Her marks were particularly poor on her handling of corruption and crime although they were slightly higher among lower-income groups, her political base.

Still, 51 percent of respondents said they had a favorable view of Rousseff, much higher than the result for her two likely election opponents. Just 27 percent had a favorable view of Aecio Neves of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party, and 24 percent responded favorably to Eduardo Campos, of the Brazilian Socialist Party.

The Pew survey was based on 1 003 interviews done with adults 18 and older between April 10 and 30, nationwide. It has a margin of error 3.8 percentage points either way.

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