dilma brazil
Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff (R) and President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thomas Bach attend a ceremony of the one year countdown to host the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 5, 2015. Less than one year away from the games, Dilma's faces an unprecedented political crisis and the lowest approval rates in history. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff weathered cacophonous criticism in recent months as defends her Worker’s Party against a growing corruption scandal, a dwindling economic climate and an explosive political situation that could bring the government to a halt. On Thursday, that criticism reached a deafening crescendo as residents of most major cities across Brazil took part in a panelaço -- the collective banging of pots by hundreds on the street and in their apartment buildings.

Just 8 percent of Brazilians believe her administration is doing “good” or “excellent,” according to a poll released on Thursday . Seventy-one percent of those surveyed graded Rousseff as “bad” or “horrible,” making her the country’s least popular leader since the end of the 1980s dictatorship. The panelaço began on Thursday during a nationally televised program that was favorable towards -- and reportedly produced by -- the Worker’s Party.

The low numbers are a steep fall from a fall 2014 election when Rousseff cleanly won a second presidential term. Since then a bribery scandal has been unveiled, showing unbeforeseen levels of political corruption, all centering around Petrobras, a state oil company that was overseen by Rouseff before she was president, as the worst of the improprieties were allegedly taking place.

Rousseff is not directly implicated in the Petrobras scandal, but for those who haven’t found her guilty in the court of public opinion, there's plenty more to be angry about. Economic and job growth has stagnated ; some are calling it a recession. Despite progress against poverty in recent years, a recent hosting of the World Cup and the 2016 Rio Olympics on the horizon, the country is far from upbeat. A weakened Brazilian Real is driving up costs of imported goods. Inflation is at a 12-year high . “Impeachment” has become a common phrase on protest signs and social media, and many have called for Rousseff to resign. But the president roundly rejects calls to step down, a military coup (which has been advocated) or for anyone to force her from power.

"No one will take away the legitimacy that the vote gave me," Rousseff said on Friday, on the morning after the nationwide pot-banging, according to Folha .

Speaking at the unveiling of a housing project in the Brazilian city of Boa Vista near the border of Venezuela, Rousseff defended her administration. According to Folha, she reminded listeners that the economy was still better of then when Lula da Silva, her Worker’s Party mentor, came into power more than a decade ago. Pointing to strong government cash reserves, she said that some economic gains couldn’t be broken.

National leaders have increasingly lost confidence in Rousseff, who has been unable to marshal her party in the legislature where critics say bold action must be taken to prevent a further economic downturn. Two parties in her coalition broke from the government this week, according to Reuters . Senator Cassio Lima of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB) told Reuters that the country’s political crisis needed to end. Members of his party hope that the Petrobras scandal will confirm alleged bribes connected to Dilma’s reelection campaign, which could lead to fresh elections.

"We practically do not have a government. How can Brazil continue for the next 3-1/2 years with no government," Lima said.

In her Friday speech, Rousseff rejected calls to remove her from office.

“I survived great threats on my life,” she said , in reference to her detention and torture under Brazil’s dictatorship. “Brazil today is very different from that Brazil that I had to deal with. It’s a democracy that respects direct elections by popular vote.”

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