Reuters International

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff gestures during the meeting "Women in Defense of Democracy" at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, April 7, 2016. REUTERS/Adriano Machado

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BRASILIA (Reuters) - Nearly 40 percent of lawmakers from Brazil's most powerful party that recently broke with President Dilma Rousseff's ruling coalition do not think she will be impeached, a survey released on Friday showed.

The finding by consulting firm Arko Advice showed a turnaround within the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, which just over a week ago appeared extremely confident that Rousseff would be pushed from office and that Vice President Michel Temer, the PMDB's leader, would take her place.

Asked if they thought Rousseff would be forced from office, 52 percent of the PMDB respondents said yes, 39 percent said no and 9 percent said they did not have a defined opinion yet.

Sixty-six percent of the respondents said most PMDB members supported impeachment.

Brasilia-based Arko Advice interviewed 44 of the PMDB's 67 lower house deputies in the April 5-7 survey conducted at the request of Reuters.

The lower house of Brazil's Congress is expected to vote April 17 on whether to impeach Rousseff as she faces charges that she manipulated budget accounts in 2014 to boost her reelection prospects.

Prosecutors in Brazil's biggest-ever corruption investigation, called Lava Jato, which refers to money laundering at a Brasilia gas station, have said billions in bribes were paid by the nation's largest construction firms in return for bloated contracts with state-run oil company Petrobras.

Rousseff has strongly denied any wrongdoing.

"This survey clearly shows that the situation of impeachment is not yet defined, that the real war will be fought when the full lower house votes on the measure," said Lucas de Aragao, a partner and political analyst at Arko Advice.

Aragao said the opposition was a lot less certain than a week ago that Rousseff would be impeached.

"Impeachment is going to be decided by the heat of the moment, by whatever latest news is coming from the Lava Jato corruption investigation and by whether or not protesters are in the street," he said.

The PMDB, which had been part of the ruling coalition since 2006, officially broke from Rousseff on March 29.

If two-thirds of deputies vote for impeachment, the measure would move to the Senate. If half the Senate votes for impeachment, Rousseff would be temporarily suspended from office pending a full trial in the Senate.

(Reporting by Brad Brooks; Editing by Richard Chang)

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