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Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff speaks during a ceremony of the signing of agreement between the Parliamentary Group of Micro and Small Enterprises and the federal government for the betterment of the General Law of Micro and Small Enterprisesat the Planalto Palace in Brasilia August 9, 2011.
Credit: Reuters/Ueslei Marcelino
By Raymond Colitt
Wed Aug 10, 2011 4:44pm EDT
BRASILIA (Reuters) - President Dilma Rousseff has suffered a sharp fall in popularity as austerity measures and a series of political scandals dampen Brazilians' high expectations, an opinion poll showed on Wednesday.
Rousseff's approval rating dropped 6 percentage points to 67 percent, while the number of those who disapprove of her more than doubled to 25 percent, a survey by the Ibope polling firm showed.
"People had expectations that weren't fulfilled," said Flavio Castelo Branco, director of economic policy with the National Industry Confederation, which releases the poll.
Although Rousseff's ratings remain relatively high, the sharp fall is an alarming sign and could mean the 63-year-old career civil servant will have less political capital to face growing economic and political troubles.
The center-left Rousseff may come under more pressure to ease budget cuts introduced earlier this year to help tame inflation. She could also be tempted to back off from an anti-corruption campaign that has angered coalition allies who lost influential positions.
Rousseff took office on January 1 amid high expectations, buoyed by a roaring economy and the huge success of her predecessor and patron, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
But she has faced an increasingly tough economic environment, plagued by inflation and a slowdown in growth.
Her government adopted unpopular budget cuts worth $30 billion and has hiked interest rates five times to 12.5 percent to combat inflation, jacking up costs for the country's credit-reliant consumers.
MONETARY POLICY UNPOPULAR
Rousseff's disapproval ratings rose across the board in the Ibope poll, from education to health and public security. But the biggest jump in dissatisfaction came in monetary policy, rising 20 percentage points to 63 percent.
"There's a perception that the most serious problems won't be solved so quickly," Branco told a news conference.
Rousseff's fight against poverty got the best marks from poll respondents, though that rating also fell from the previous poll in March.
Rousseff launched her flagship social welfare program designed to eradicate extreme poverty in June
Asked what the most memorable events of the Rousseff administration were, most people polled by Ibope cited a corruption scandal in the transportation ministry and the fall in June of Rousseff's chief of staff, Antonio Palocci, over a personal finance scandal.
Since June, Rousseff has lost three cabinet members to graft and ethics scandals and faces fresh corruption scandals in the agriculture and tourism ministries.
The Ibope survey polled 2002 people July 28-31 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.
(Editing by Stuart Grudgings and Anthony Boadle)
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