Cash Handouts Boost Bolsonaro’s Popularity Despite Virus Toll

The approval rating of Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro jumped to the highest level since the start of his term amid increased government spending to combat the coronavirus, a public opinionpoll showed.

Bolsonaro was rated good or great by 37% of respondents, up from 32% in June, while his disapproval rating tumbled 10 percentage points to 34% during the same period, according to a Datafolha survey published in Folha de S. Paulo. In the country’s northeast, a stronghold of leftwing political parties, his approval rose by six percentage points while his rejection rate tumbled to 35% from 52%.

In the Southeast, Brazil’s most populous region home to states including Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, his approval rose by seven percentage points and his rejection fell to 39% from 47%.

The survey comes as Bolsonaro’s administration spends billions of dollars on items including popular stipends for informal workers to mitigate one of the world’s worst coronavirus outbreaks. Economists have credited government stimulus for sustaining some demand and preventing an even larger economic recession this year. Meanwhile, the president has also attempted to ease political tensions with the legislature and judiciary.

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Latin America’s largest economy has recorded over 3.2 million coronavirus cases and more than 105,000 fatalities, according to health ministry data. Those figures trail just the U.S. for the highest in the world.

The Datafolha poll surveyed 2,065 people by phone on Aug. 11-12. The margin of error was plus or minus two percentage points.

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