If popular opinion alone could take down Brazil’s beleaguered President Dilma Rousseff, she would have been swept from office months ago. Her approval ratings have long been suffering, recently sinking to the lowest figures in Brazil’s history of presidential approval surveys, and support for her impeachment has been rising. Despite souring public opinion, impeachment remained at best a remote possibility, analysts have said. That tide, however, has steadily turned over the past few months.
Damage to Rousseff’s presidency is flying in from all sides. Corruption allegations have continued to mount on top of the investigation of state-run energy company Petrobras, which already has struck severe blows to Rousseff’s Workers’ Party. Dwindling political support has made it difficult for her to push through needed financial reforms as the economy continues to stagger with high inflation and unemployment. While she has not been directly implicated in any criminal acts, the confluence of scandal, public disaffection and economic malaise has encouraged a growing chorus of speculation that she may not finish the remaining three years of her second term. Still, it’s anybody’s guess as to when or how Rousseff could end up leaving office.
“A month ago I would say it was unlikely that Dilma would be impeached. It’s uncertain now,” said Paulo Sotero, director of the Brazil Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center, a think tank based in Washington, D.C. “She has not been accused of anything that would justify an impeachment, but the political equation has definitely turned against her.”