Bolsonaro's approval rating plunges as Brazilians lose confidence

Rio de Janeiro (AFP) –


Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's approval rating plunged in March, a poll showed Wednesday, after a series of political scandals tarnished his anti-corruption image.

Bolsonaro's score of 51 percent was the worst reading recorded by a first-term president in the three months after taking power, according to Ibope institute, which surveyed around 2,000 Brazilians.

That compares with the far-right leader's 67 percent approval rating in January soon after he was sworn in.

Public confidence in the ultraconservative Bolsonaro also fell to 49 percent this month from 62 percent at the start of the year.

And 44 percent of Brazilians declared they had no confidence in the former paratrooper, compared with 30 percent in January.

"The government is unpopular, it is losing capital rapidly, it has internal battles," political analyst Andre Cesar of Hold consultancy told AFP.

On top of that, Bolsonaro is trying to push through an "extremely unpopular" reform of the country's generous pension system.

Bolsonaro took office on January 1 after winning 55 percent of votes in October on promises to fight corruption and violence, as well as overhaul the country's finances and revive economic growth.

But a slew of scandals, including allegations of illegal financial transactions involving one of Bolsonaro's sons and the sacking of a close aide suspected of misusing campaign funds in last year's election, have eroded faith in his anti-corruption rhetoric.

Disappointment with Bolsonaro has extended to his government, with Ibope's latest survey showing fewer Brazilians having a positive impression of the administration -- 34 percent in March compared with 49 percent at the start of the term.

The percentage of Brazilians who consider Bolsonaro's government "bad or terrible" rose to 24 percent from 11 percent over the same period.

Bolsonaro's personal reading was the lowest since 1995 when former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso scored 41 percent three months after taking power. Cardoso was re-elected four years later.

Jailed former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva scored 51 percent two months after taking power for the first time in 2003.