Brazil’s Cash Handouts Fail to Buoy Bolsonaro’s Popularity

President Jair Bolsonaro’s approval rating inched lower even as his government launched a new round of modest cash handouts to help Brazil’s poor cope with the pandemic, according the latest opinion poll.

The far-right president was approved by 24% of respondents in a survey published by Exame/Ideia Friday, compared with 25% in April. His disapproval rate fell marginally to 52% from a record-high of 54% a month ago. The changes were within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Brazil’s Cash Handouts Fail to Buoy Bolsonaro’s Popularity

The survey comes after the start of a new government aid program, representing a scaled-down version of the immensely popular cash handouts that backstopped Brazilian households in 2020. This year’s iteration offers a more modest 250 reais ($48) per month to fewer people -- now roughly 45 million -- who lost work due to the pandemic.

The program is scheduled to end in July, although most of the respondents said they expect it to last until the end of the year. Exame/Ideia conducted 1,230 interviews between May 4-5.

Read More: Brazil Covid Aid Likely to Be Extended Beyond Four Months

Bolsonaro last year saw his popularity surge to levels not seen since his 2018 election as government income support bailed out roughly 30% of the population. But as the crisis drags on, the president’s standing has suffered with 68% of those polled saying that the worsening pandemic has cost them income and 71% saying they’d used the money to buy food.

The mounting challenges for the 66-year-old president also include a congressional probe on his erratic management of the pandemic. Former Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta earlier this week accused Bolsonaro of fueling the coronavirus crisis and Economy Minister Paulo Guedes of doing nothing to prevent it.

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