SAO PAULO - A survey released on Tuesday paints a grim picture of Brazil as it gears up to host the World Cup, showing widespread frustration with the economy and with President Dilma Rousseff.
The level of general dissatisfaction in Brazil is 72 per cent according to the poll by the Washington-based Pew Research Center. That is up from 55 per cent a year earlier in a Pew survey that was taken just before the largest street protests in two decades broke out.
Six in 10 respondents said hosting the World Cup, which starts next week, is bad for Brazil, taking the view that the billions of dollars poured into the football tournament would be better spent on services such as healthcare, schools and public transportation.
The findings dovetail with other recent surveys by Brazilian pollsters, which have also shown that support for the World Cup has eroded over the past couple of years as Brazil's government has failed to deliver promised roads, airports and many other investments that could have yielded long-term benefits.
In the Pew survey, respondents were less pessimistic about how the World Cup would be seen overseas, with 39 per cent saying it would hurt Brazil's image abroad and 35 per cent saying it would help. The month-long tournament kicks off on June 12 at a controversial new stadium in Sao Paulo.
The Pew Center found Brazilians were particularly worried about their country's economy, which has slowed to a crawl in the last three years after a decade-long boom. Two-thirds say the economy is in bad shape, while just 32 per cent believe things are going well.
That is an about-face from a year ago, when 59 per cent thought the country was in good shape economically. Hopes that the World Cup would provide a much-needed boost have also faded, with data on Friday showing gross domestic product barely grew in the first quarter.
Inflation, an age-old villain in Brazil, is considered the top economic problem, the survey found. That could be bad news for President Rousseff, who is up for re-election in October. Crime, health care and political corruption topped the list of noneconomic concerns in the poll.
Under half, or 48 per cent, of Brazilians said they believe Rousseff is exerting a "good influence" on Brazil and 52 per cent described her influence as "bad". Her marks were particularly poor on her handling of corruption and crime although they were slightly higher among lower-income groups, her political base.
Still, 51 per cent of respondents said they had a favourable view of Rousseff, much higher than the result for her two likely election opponents. Just 27 per cent had a favourable view of Aecio Neves of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party, and 24 per cent responded favourably to Eduardo Campos, of the Brazilian Socialist Party.
The Pew survey was based on 1,003 interviews done with adults 18 and older between April 10 and 30, nationwide. It has a margin of error 3.8 percentage points either way.