Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Looking behind the figures - what does it all mean?

I almost feel they're doing them for me. I'm becoming a bit of a poll junkie, which I hope isn't too boring. But reading between the lines they do make for interesting reading - for me at any rate!

Brazil's equivalent of the CBI, the CNI, has published its quarterly poll on Lula's government, put together by the polling company Ibope. The headline figures, as the Folha and JB show is a fall in Lula's popularity from 60% to 54% and a rise in distrust of his government from 36% to 43%.

The JB - never a friend of the president and his party - noted that the fall was most stark amongst those with those you might imagine to be his key constituency: those with the lowest income. Between March and June there was a fall of 13% in the approval/disapproval ratings by those earning up to one minimum salary and of 8% by those earning between 2 two and five minimum salaries (although interesting there was no change in the approval/disapproval ratings for those earning between one and two minimum salaries).

Lula appears to be suffering as a result of voters' lack of confidence in the government to tackle unemployment - which could well account for the concern amongst the lower-paid. And he's going to have difficulty turning that around: forecasts don't expect Brazil's economy to grow too much this year, which will have a knock-on effect of the limited number of jobs created.

Meanwhile the government is perceived as having had most success with its policies to tackle famine and poverty - although even the approval ratings for these have fallen by 20% to 34% between in the six months since December. And given that much of the problem resides in the northeast of the country, it's probably no surprise to see the government's approval/disapproval ratings have fallen by 21% between March and June.

And yet for all the doom and gloom, there appears to be one figure which seems to have been overlooked. While the focus will be on Lula's approval and disapproval ratings, those who classify the government as 'regular' has risen slightly, by 4% to 42% since June last year. And that stability appears to be reflected in the low attention given to the battering received by the government in the press; the most commonly recalled item of news has been the increase in the minimum salary in May.

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