2022 Race

Voters see through Bolsonaro’s economic populism, says poll

Voters auxílio brasil
Jair Bolsonaro presents the card of the Auxílio Brasil program. Photo: Clauber Cleber Caetano/PR

Per a Datafolha poll, 61 percent of Brazilians regard President Jair Bolsonaro’s recent moves to increase welfare stipends as solely a vote-winning strategy. 

Mr. Bolsonaro has been trailing former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in the polls for over a year now. Still, he had hoped recent hikes to benefit programs would offer him a much-needed bump as October’s election comes closer. 

However, the transparency of his electioneering could stifle that possibility. 

Last month, Mr. Bolsonaro advocated for a BRL 41.2 billion (USD 7.7 billion) stimulus package that included a 50-percent increase in monthly payouts of the Auxílio Brasil cash-transfer program. The incumbent has continued to desperately push for economy-boosting measures, recently ratifying a bill to raise limits for payroll deduction loans.

The president’s polling numbers remain stagnant, struggling to reduce his 18-point disadvantage to Lula. 

Even within the 29 percent of the population that does support Mr. Bolsonaro, nearly one-third said the increase in Auxílio Brasil benefits was at least in part motivated by his electoral prospects and not to help those in need.

The incumbent president’s hope with these measures was to gain traction with lower-class voters, who currently stand as one of his weakest demographics. While only 48 percent of Lula voters reported having sufficient food at home in the last months, 66 percent of Bolsonaro voters experienced this food security, per the same Datafolha poll.

Former President Lula has promised to maintain the Auxílio Brasil hike if he were to win the election in October, a move that could further discredit President Bolsonaro’s hand in the increased stipend and neutralize voting gains from the measure. Indeed, Lula has urged citizens to enjoy the extra money dished out by the incumbent president, saying they should “take it before [Economy Minister Paulo] Guedes does.”