Brazil’s president has come under more public pressure to quit, with protest rallies in 156 cities over the weekend. Although well over half a million people turned out, compared with two million who demonstrated against Dilma Rousseff on March 15th, polls show dissatisfaction reaching new depths: 75% want Congress to launch impeachment proceedings.
Rousseff was only sworn in a few months ago, winning a second term in office in elections last October, but since then her popularity rating has crashed, to a reported 13%.
This is largely owing to the state oil company Petrobras corruption megascandal. Brazilians hold Rousseff responsible for not stopping embezzlement from 2003-2010 when she was chairwoman of the board. More than 50 politicians, including members of Rousseff’s Workers’ Party (PT), are under investigation.
Rousseff signed anti-corruption measures last month but it hasn’t calmed a furious public, as Brazil’s economy continues to tank.
Economist Gilberto Braga said: “This year, 2015, will need a spring cleaning. A lot of adjustments will have to be made in the economy to try and fix the great damage that Rousseff ended up doing in order to be reelected; she used the economy as if it were a blank cheque for the people. Now it is time for them to pay up.”
Braga mean Rousseff loosened the purse strings for social spending and now that she has been reelected must cut back.
The national income (GDP) last year stagnated, growing only 0.1%. The IMF this year is forecasting a 1% contraction of the economy, while year-on-year inflation is more than 8%, the highest it has been since 1990.
Politically, Rousseff has been caught in a vice by her centre-right allies the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, who have approved a law allowing privately or publically owned companies to outsource more of their work. PT is opposing it.
With fears over jobs, there have been clashes between unions and police to try to block the law coming into force, and calls to strike have gone out for this Wednesday.
The final step in realising legislation in Brazil is its signature by the president.