Bolsonaro's disapproval rating rises amid virus havoc

Rio de Janeiro (AFP) –


Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's disapproval rating has surged as the far-right leader has taken a vocal stance against coronavirus containment measures, two polls out Friday found.

Bolsonaro, who has compared COVID-19 to a "bit of sniffles" and criticized the "hysteria" around it, has found himself increasingly isolated on the issue as the pandemic advances.

Thirty-nine percent of Brazilians disapprove of his handling of the crisis, up six points from two weeks ago, polling firm Datafolha found.

That was similar to the result reported by polling firm XP Ip Espe, which found Bolsonaro's disapproval rating hit its highest level since he took office in January 2019.

Forty-two percent of Brazilians said the president's overall performance was "bad" or "terrible," up six points in a month, it said.

Both polls found the president's approval rating was essentially stable: 33 percent, in the Datafolha poll, which asked specifically about his handling of the coronavirus pandemic; and 28 percent, according to XP, which focused on overall performance.

Those numbers were down two points in both cases, indicating the president retains a relatively stable core of support even as his disapproval ratings rise.

The polls, meanwhile, found a surge in approval for Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta, who has stood by international recommendations on taking aggressive measures to contain the new coronavirus, braving criticism from Bolsonaro.

Mandetta's approval rating leapt 21 points to 76 percent, Datafolha found.

Bolsonaro has faced nightly protests for weeks in some of Brazil's biggest cities for his handling of the coronavirus crisis. Confined residents bang pots and pans out their windows, shouting, "Get out, Bolsonaro!"

His criticism of containment measures such as closing businesses and schools has increasingly isolated him in Brazil and abroad.

State and local authorities have largely ignored him to follow World Health Organization advice on adopting social distancing measures as Brazil has emerged as the hardest-hit country in Latin America, with 359 deaths and 9,056 cases so far.

The Datafolha poll was conducted by cell phone from April 1 to 3 with 1,511 adults nationwide, with a margin of error of three percentage points.

The XP poll was conducted from March 30 to April 1 with 1,000 people nationwide, with a margin of error of 3.2 percentage points.