BRASILIA Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff's popularity continued to recover in November thanks to her government's social programs and a slowdown in inflation, a poll showed on Friday, making her the clear favorite in next year's presidential vote.
Seventy-five percent of respondents rated Rousseff's government "good/great" or "average" in the latest Ibope/CNI poll. That was up from 72 percent in September and 65 percent in July, when millions of Brazilians took to the streets to protest poor public transportation, corruption and crime.
That wave of discontent and disappointing economic growth brought the lowest ratings of Rousseff's three-year presidency and put her reelection chances in doubt.
Although the economy remains sluggish and inflation is relatively high, Rousseff has regained the confidence of many Brazilians thanks in part to social welfare programs. An initiative implemented this year brought thousands of Cuban doctors to the most desolate areas of Brazil as part of a program to improve the country's public health system.
"The government's response to the problems of the health system was very welcomed by the population," said Renato da Fonseca, research director at CNI.
Da Fonseca said a slowdown in inflation, which reached its year-high in June, also helped improve Rousseff's image among voters.
She continues to score badly in areas like education and security, which Brazilians see as the weakest points of her government, the poll showed.
Rousseff's popularity still has not recovered to its pre-protest levels. In Ibope/CNI's March poll, 91 percent of respondents rated her government good, great or average.
A pragmatic economist who had no experience in elected office before she was elected president in 2010, Rousseff has increased her appearances in public events across the country to build advantage over potential rivals.
One of them, Eduardo Campos, continues to be one of the most popular governors in the country with an approval rating of 58 percent among voters in Pernambuco state, the poll showed. Campos, until earlier this year a government ally, has joined forces with the popular former environmental minister Marina Silva in what could be Rousseff's biggest electoral threat.
The Ibope nation-wide poll of 2,002 people was conducted between November 23 and December 2 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.
To see the original poll results in Portuguese please click on: here,4053/pesquisa-cni-ibope-avaliacao-do-governo.html
(Reporting by Alonso Soto; Editing by Brian Winter and Andrew Hay)