Of late, Brazil’s democratic integrity has weathered one blow after another, the most recent being President Michel Temer’s corruption indictment after he was recorded discussing bribes. Temer, who assumed the Presidency following the impeachment of former President Dilma Rousseff due to corruption, is just one of many highly visible Brazilian officials under fire for similar allegations.

Brazil’s recent wave of corruption investigations are under the umbrella of one of the largest bribery scandals the world has ever seen, called “Lava Jato” (Car Wash in English). In short, Petrobas directors were caught funneling millions of dollars to politicians, under the guise of contracts, in order to ensure continued business deals. Hundreds of executives from Petrobas and politicians from both the left and right have been implicated in the scandal.  

Throughout the revelations of the misconduct, Brazilians have expressed outrage at the status quo where wealthy, influential people benefit from a culture of impunity. After so many scandals, how widespread is distrust in government, and what does this mean for the future of Brazil’s democracy?

Dalia’s political risk survey aims to get a better sense of how internet-connected Brazilians are reacting to the corruption scandals and the country’s unending political unrest. The results show that while Brazilians are very unhappy with their current situation, their trust in public institutions and their personal convictions remain strong.

Government

Only 9% of Brazilians approve of the way President Michel Temer is performing his job. Moreover, at 8%, Brazil’s government approval is the second lowest among the other countries in Dalia’s survey. Distrust isn’t limited to just the president. Brazilians also have the lowest distrust in politicians in general; approval of local representatives is at just 10%. Overall, only Venezuelans have lower perceptions of stability and government approval.

 

 

 

Corruption

75% of Brazilians say the level of corruption has increased a lot over the past 12 months. 93% also say corruption is “a big problem”, 18 percentage points higher than the country average in Latin America (75%).

 

Trust in Institutions

Despite the very strong public dissatisfaction in Michel Temer, the Brazilian government, democracy, and corruption in general, trust in other institutions shows a more positive picture. Trust in courts is at 46% compared to the overall Latin America country average of 33%. Trust in police is even higher at 52% compared to the average of 43%. This could be in part due to the significant role the police have played in the ongoing corruption investigations. Some policeman are even being celebrated as national folk heros.

Additionally, Brazilian attitudes towards tax evasion are more law-abiding than average: 75% of Brazilians say tax evasion is never acceptable compared to the Latin American average of 66% who say the same. And, while Brazilians almost unanimously agree that corruption within the country is a serious problem, only 37% have personally or indirectly encountered corruption, compared to the 8 country average of 47%.

 

The results presented are based on a survey of 617 internet-connected respondents from Brazil. The entire Latin American survey comprises responses from 4,857 internet-connected people across Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela. The survey was conducted from June 7, 2017 to June 26, 2017.

Photo: ANDRÉ DUSEK / ESTADÃO CONTENT