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Pessimism takes root in Brazil as World Cup nears

Majority of Brazilians disapprove of the direction the country is taking

An anti-World Cup protest in Brasilia.
An anti-World Cup protest in Brasilia. ERALDO PERES (AP)

The majority of Brazilians disapprove of how things are going in their country and of its hosting of the most important event in international soccer, the World Cup, which kicks off on June 12. Despite the growth of the middle class and lower poverty rates, the nation has grown increasingly pessimistic as presidential elections loom later this year.

According to a survey published by the Pew Research Center, 72 percent of Brazilians are dissatisfied with the country’s progress. This figure is up from 55 percent in June 2013, just weeks before a wave of demonstrations began. Four years ago, 50 percent of the population said they were satisfied with the way things were going in the country. Now, only 26 percent approve.

The main culprits are violence, lack of healthcare services and inflation, which represent a challenge for 85 percent of Brazilians. Eighty-three percent of those polled say healthcare is a concern and 78 percent worry about corruption. These concerns have not changed in the last few years but now there is widespread discontent with the administration. Only 47 percent believe the national government is having a good influence on the way things are going in the country, down from 75 percent in 2010.

72 percent of Brazilians are dissatisfied with the way things are going in their country

Brazilians also have less faith that their country will eventually become one of the world’s leading powers.

The strong negative sentiment is aimed directly at President Dilma Rousseff, who is seeking re-election in October. About half of those surveyed (52 percent) say Rousseff is having a bad influence on the country, while 48 percent say she is doing well. Four years ago, her predecessor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, received an 84-percent approval rating.

Despite the noted dissatisfaction, Rousseff, the Workers’ Party candidate, is still the frontrunner in the presidential race. Fifty-five percent of Brazilians have a positive opinion of her. Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB) candidate Aécio Neves received almost half that rating (27 percent) and Eduardo Campos, who will run for the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB), received a 24-percent approval rating. Campos’ running mate, environmentalist Marina Silva, has the good opinion of 51 percent of the population – around the same as Rousseff. Lula outshines them all: 66 percent still have a favorable opinion of him.

52 percent say Rousseff is having a bad influence on the country,  but she remains the favorite among the presidential candidates

Approval ratings usually indicate the way people intend to vote. In late May, an Ibope election poll predicted that Rousseff would receive 40 percent of the vote in October. Neves would get 20 percent and Campos would come in last with 11 percent.

Brazil has grown even more pessimistic about the World Cup in the last few months. According to the Pew Research Center, 61 percent of those who answered the survey believe hosting the World Cup is bad for the country because it takes money away from schools, healthcare and other public services. These complaints have become the chorus at the demonstrations that have been taking place for a year. In April, only 34 percent said hosting the World Cup would be good for the country because it would stimulate the economy. In February, a Datafolha survey had said 52 percent approved of the tournament. In November 2008, 79 percent of Brazilians welcomed the championship.

“There is skepticism about the international benefit of hosting the World Cup,” the Pew Research Center reports. About 39 percent of Brazil thinks it will hurt the country’s image while an almost equal number (35 percent) say it will help. Twenty-three percent of them say it will have no impact.

Translation: Dyane Jean François

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