Brazilians feeling upbeat about their economy; role in world affairs

On the eve of Brazil's presidential election, a new Pew Research Center poll shows that most Brazilians are feeling upbeat about their economy and pleased with Brazil's role in world affairs.

A quarter of those polled said Brazil is already one of the most powerful countries in the world and 53 percent said it eventually would be.

"At a time when global publics are mostly glum about the way things are going in their countries, half of Brazilians say they are satisfied with national conditions, and 62 percent say their nation's economy is in good shape," the study said.

Of the 22 national populations included in this year's Pew Global Attitudes survey, only the Chinese were more positive about economic conditions and where their country is heading. In the United States, only 24 percent of those surveyed said the U.S. economy was good.

"Now Brazilians are enjoying the fruits of economic success. Poverty has decreased and the economy is growing," said Paolo Sotero, director of the Brazil Institute of the Woodrow Wilson Center. "People are satisfied."

But that's not to say they don't worry about problems.

Eighty-five percent and 83 percent, respectively, said that illegal drugs and crime are very serious problems in Brazil.

Corrupt political leaders, social inequality and pollution were among the other top challenges that those surveyed identified. Blacks were more likely than whites and those of mixed race to view social inequality as a major challenge. Seventy-seven percent of blacks described it as such while only 63 percent of whites did.

Eight-in-ten Brazilians said President Luíz Inácio Lula da Silva's influence on the way things are going in Brazil is positive. Respondents overwhelmingly endorsed (81 percent) his Bolsa Familía initiative, which gives cash incentives to poor families for keeping their children in school and getting them vaccinated.

Even though Brazilians feel positively about the way their globe-trotting president is handling world affairs, many disagreed with him on the best approach to Iran and its nuclear weapons program.

Eighty five percent were opposed to Iran's acquiring nuclear weapons and of those who were opposed, 65 percent said they were willing to consider tougher sanctions to prevent Iran from developing such weapons. Lula has opposed additional international sanctions.

Without taking the candidacy of Dilma Rousseff -- the front-runner in Sunday's election -- into consideration, seven in 10 Brazilians said it would be a good thing for a woman to be elected president. But many (66 percent) said that men still get more opportunities for high-paying jobs -- even when women are qualified for the positions.

The poll, which was carried out in April and May, surveyed 1,000 Brazilians.