Sao Paulo / Recife (Brazil), May 23 . .- The check for $ 110 that the Brazilian government distributes to informal workers has contributed to Jair Bolsonaro increasing his electoral base in impoverished layers of the country, despite the wear and tear of the image of the president for his management of COVID-19.
The latest surveys on the popularity of Bolsonaro, a ruler skeptical about the severity of the coronavirus, reveal a change in its support base in Brazil, one of the countries most affected by the pathogen, registering almost 331,000 infections and 21,000 deaths.
Although he has come to consider COVID-19 a “flu” and has encouraged crowds against the indications of the health authorities, the president still maintains about a third of the favorable electorate, according to the latest surveys.
Among that percentage are the most loyal and immovable, about 15%, while the rest make up a more volatile base in which surprising increases in approvals in northeast Brazil, one of the most impoverished regions of the country.
There, the historic stronghold of the leftist Workers’ Party (PT) and where Bolsonaro was defeated in the second round of the 2018 elections by Fernando Haddad (PT) by almost 70% of the votes, the so-called “coronavoucher” has penetrated .
The 600 reais of aid (about 110 dollars at the current exchange rate) captivated a part of the informal, but also the iron-clad defense of the ruler upon returning to work and at the end of the quarantines decreed by local and regional governments.
And all this despite the logistical difficulty of distributing the “coronavouchers” among some 50 million Brazilians, who, as the president has warned, may begin to die of “hunger and despair” if the confinement is prolonged.
Brazil is one of the most unequal countries in the world and has half of its 210 million inhabitants with an income of less than $ 250 a month.
“BOLSONARO IS NOT A CRAZY”
In Recife, the capital of the state of Pernambuco and the second largest city in the northeast, the ruler won sympathizers, mostly desperate people who depend on the aid provided by the Government or survive from the informality now blighted by quarantines and confinement measures. .
Afro-Brazilian bricklayer Antonio Carlos Nascimento, 48, told Efe that for those who live from day to day, aid “alleviates” part of the needs and that Bolsonaro, despite “saying many wrong things”, is acting “correctly “Because many people” have opened a business and they cannot function since this pandemic began. “
“How are they going to survive with closed trade? That is why I fully agree with the things he does and in that sense I agree with him in quotes,” Nascimento said.
For Mario Belarmino de Oliveira, 65, who manufactures sandals and sells them as a street vendor, aid came in “congratulations” and the reopening of the trade proposed by Bolsonaro can occur under conditions of “sanitation” and the “use of masks correctly”.
“This disease is not a game, it is something serious, only someone who lost a loved relative because of it knows it. But people say that Bolsonaro is crazy and he is not crazy, he knows what he is saying. Our country is going into crisis and until we recover from this crisis there are many years ahead, “he said.
According to artisanal fisherman Eduardo Nunes de Souza, 49, the government was right to benefit fishermen who do not receive unemployment insurance for the low season of lobster, which is the segment covered by this subsidy, with aid.
“Not all of us fish for lobster. Those who fish for shellfish, fish, marlin and also some who fish for lobster, but who do not have the documents, received this money,” said Nunes de Souza, who praised the president’s attitude.
WHAT DO THE NUMBERS SAY?
The latest survey by the MDA Institute and the National Transport Confederation (CNT) shows that the rejection of Bolsonaro’s management shot up from 31% of the Brazilian population registered in January to 43% this month.
However, the approval of the president remains practically intact, since the Brazilians who classify their Administration as “good” or “optimal” went from representing 34.5% to 32% in the same period.
According to specialists, Bolsonaro has offset the fall in support among citizens with higher incomes and schooling by new supports from voters who only attended elementary school and have a lower income.
“Bolsonaro lost high-income and high-school electors due to his position in the fight against the pandemic” and proof of this are the “spontaneous casseroles” that occurred at the beginning of the pandemic “in the middle and upper class neighborhoods of the country who voted for it massively, “political scientist Alberto Almeida reminded Efe.
These same conclusions were ratified by a recent poll carried out by Vox Populi and commissioned by the PT, the party of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
The data from this latest study, released by Veja magazine, shows that, in the northeast of the country, support for the Brazilian president grew 15 percentage points between December 2019 and April 2020, when government approval jumped from 12% to 27%.
Among low-income voters, the percentages soared from 16% to 34%, while, among people with training up to basic education, the president was approved by 42% (in December it was 18%).
According to Almeida, the “coronavoucher” was decisive for the leader of the extreme right to win sympathy among the poorest population in Brazil because many of the families that before the arrival of COVID-19 benefited from an average of 200 reais per month (about $ 35) through the Bolsa de Familia program, they saw their income “triple each month.”
However, according to the specialist, there is a “great probability” that these people “will change their assessment in relation to the Bolsonaro government” once the term of this aid ends.
Carla Samon Ros and Waldheim García Montoya