Bolsonaro’s Popularity Crumbles as Covid-19 Crisis Rages

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s approval rating cratered amid a surging death toll from the coronavirus and confusion over a national vaccination plan.

The mercurial leader, who scoffed at masks and echoed baseless theories about the virus voiced by former U.S. President Donald Trump, saw his personal backing tumble Friday to 26%, from 37% in a previous poll published Jan. 14, according to a survey conducted by IDEIA and published in Brazilian business magazine Exame. His disapproval rating rose to 45% during the same period.

Asecond poll released Friday by DataFolha found Bolsonaro’s approval rating at 31% against 37% in December, while his disapproval rating rose to 40% from 32% over the same period.

Criticism at home and abroad is growing over his government’s erratic handling of the pandemic as health-care systems in the Amazon city ofManaus collapse and the nation’s economic recovery loses steam. On Friday, Bolsonarosaid there’s no scientific proof on vaccines. That same day, two prominent indigenous leaders looked to bring charges against the president over his policies in the Amazon rainforest.

Read more: Brazil’s Vaccination Drive Finally Begins But Risks Abound

Such levels of discontent have not been seen since the middle of last year, when the pandemic overwhelmed hospitals and forced lockdowns across the nation.

IDEIA surveyed 1,200 Brazilians across the country between Jan. 18-21, with a margin of error of approximately 3%. DataFolha interviewed 2,030 people throughout Brazil on Jan. 19-20, with a margin of error of about 2%.

The results mirror findings from pollster XP/Ipespe, whichregistered a six percentage point fall in Bolsonaro’s popularity to 32% this month as cash transfers expired.

As another sign of unpopularity, the two indigenous leaders asked the International Criminal Court to investigate Bolsonaro, accusing him of unprecedented environmental damage, killings and persecution.

William Bourdon, a Paris-based lawyer, submitted a request for a preliminary examination to the tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, the British newspaper The Guardianreported.

— With assistance by Martha Viotti Beck

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