Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s job approval ratings have nose-dived in the wake of his handling of an unprecedented number of fires burning in the country’s Amazon region. Already below 45 percent when the fires became international news, a poll taken on Sunday and Monday showed his approval rating had dropped to 29 percent.
Bolsonaro is the second conservative South American president to face popular discontent in recent weeks. On August 11, Argentina President Mauricio Macri suffered an overwhelming rebuke in a primary election that experts believe signals a return to power of leftists in the October general election.
Among the reasons Brazilians are rejecting Bolsonaro are his policies encouraging the deforestation of the Amazon to increase agricultural land. They also, by a three-to-one margin, disagree with his fight with French President Emmanuel Macron over an offer of assistance to fight the Amazon fires.
Those responding to the polling survey disapprove of Bolsonaro’s handling of the economy, which has been stagnant for years as well as deep cuts to environmental and educational budgets.
Eight months into his administration, Bolsonaro’s popularity has suffered from a prolonged economic malaise that has kept unemployment in the double digits. Among his worst actions as president, respondents cited his decree making it easier for Brazilians to own a gun as well as his “inadequate and offensive” public comments on a variety of topics.
Most Brazilians disapproved of the pension reform his government is pushing in Congress, and 72.7 percent of them considered as inadequate Bolsonaro’s plan to nominate one of his sons as U.S. ambassador.