February 24, 2016 / 3:51 PM / 2 years ago

Brazil's Rousseff gains approval despite corruption: poll

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Approval of President Dilma Rousseff’s government has nudged higher amid recession and a massive corruption scandal, though a majority of Brazilians still want to see her impeached, a new poll showed on Wednesday.

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff is seen before a meeting Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill at the Alvorada Palace in Brasilia, Brazil February 19, 2016. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

The CNT/MDA survey suggested that Rousseff’s opponents might have more trouble than they reckoned rallying public support for their bid to impeach her despite a severe economic slump and a graft investigation that is getting closer to the president.

The number of Brazilians who favor Rousseff’s impeachment has slipped to 55.6 percent from 62.8 percent in July, while 40.3 percent now oppose impeaching her, compared with 32.1 percent in July, the poll said.

Those considering her government “bad” or “terrible” dropped to 62.4 percent from 70 percent in October, while those who view it as “great” or “good” has risen slightly to 11.4 percent from 8.8 percent.

The poll -- which surveyed 2,002 people and had a 2.2 percent margin of error -- was conducted between Feb. 18 and 21, before the arrest of Rousseff’s top political advisor and campaign strategist Joao Santana brought the corruption scandal one step closer to her.

Police arrested Santana on Tuesday for allegedly receiving off-shore payments from the proceeds of a graft and bribery scheme surrounding state-run oil company Petrobras.

Opposition parties jumped on Santana’s arrest to try to reignite support for Rousseff’s impeachment in demonstrations that fizzled out last year. The lower house of Congress has yet to decide on a request to impeach the president.

The investigation of Santana has increased the risk that Rousseff’s re-election in 2014 could be invalidated by Brazil’s top electoral court if evidence emerges that bribe money was used to fund her campaign.

Dozens of politicians in Rousseff’s governing coalition are being investigated for receiving kickbacks paid from overpriced Petrobras contracts fixed by Brazil’s leading engineering firms.

While Rousseff is not under investigation, her mentor and predecessor as president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, is being probed for allegedly hiding ownership of a luxury coastal resort apartment that belonging to a construction firm implicated in the Petrobras scandal.

The CNT/MDA poll found that more than two in every three Brazilians hold Lula, and to a lesser extent Rousseff, responsible for the corruption at Petrobras.

On Tuesday evening, opponents of Rousseff’s Workers’ Party banged on pots and pans in several major cities to protest the broadcast of a political ad that defended Lula’s record.

Reporting by Anthony Boadle Editing by W Simon

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