Poll: Venezuelans Have Highest Regard for Their Democracy

Venezuelans view their democracy more favorably than the citizens of all other Latin American countries view their own democracies, except Uruguay, according to a new survey released by the Chilean NGO Latinbarometro last Saturday. Also, Venezuela is in first place in several measures of political participation, compared to all other Latin American countries.

According to the Latinobarometro survey, Venezuelans rank their democracy as being more fully realized than the citizens of all other surveyed countries do except Uruguay. On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 means a country that is not democratic and 10 is a country that is completely democratic, Venezuelans, on average, gave their own democracy a score of 7.0. The Latin American average was 5.8, with Uruguay having the highest score, of 7.2, and Paraguay the lowest, at 3.9.

Similarly, Venezuelans say more often than the citizens all other countries except Uruguayans that they are satisfied with their democracy. 57% of Venezuelans are happy with Venezuelan democracy, which is the second highest percentage, with 66% of Uruguayans expressing satisfaction. The average for all countries surveyed was 38%, with citizens of Peru, Ecuador, and Paraguay, expressing the least satisfaction, of 23%, 22%, and 12% respectively.

For Venezuela, the percentage of citizens surveyed who indicated satisfaction increased more since 1998, the year Chavez was elected, than any other country. The percentage expressing satisfaction increased from 32% to 57% in those eight years.

In terms of political participation, Venezuelans indicate that they are more politically active than the citizens of any other surveyed country. Venezuelans have the highest percentage of citizens that say they discuss politics regularly (47%, average is 26%), who say that they try to convince others on political matters (32%, average is 16%), who participate in demonstrations (26%, average is 12%), and who say they are active in a political party (25%, average is 9%).

With regard to whether they believe that elections in their country are ‘clean,’ Venezuelans answer in the affirmative 56% of the time, which puts them in third place, after Uruguay (83%) and Chile (69%). These were the only three where over half said they believed elections were clean. On average, only 41% of Latin Americans expressed confidence in elections in their country. Paraguayans (20%) and Ecuadorians (21%) expressed the least confidence in their elections.

According to Latinobarometro, Venezuelans and Uruguayans expressed the highest percentage of confidence that elections were the most effective means to promote change in their country (both 71%), compared to 57% for all of Latin America.

Latinobarometro has been conducting an annual poll in Latin American countries for the past 13 years. The polls are financed by a variety of multilateral agencies, such as the European Union, the Inter- American Development Bank, and the World Bank. The 2006 poll was conducted in 18 countries in the month of October 2006 and involved interviews with over 20,000 people. Its margin of error is about 3% (varies from country to country).

The Latinobarometro report contradicted the common perception that Latin America was heading towards more authoritarian regimes with the recent political shift towards the left. ‘It is clear that there is no authoritarian regression [in Latin America], which is demonstrated by the fact that 14 presidents were substituted, for various reasons and due to popular pressure prior to the end of their mandate and within the valid legal framework in each of the countries,’ said the report.

According to Latinobarometro, ‘An important part of the errors of perception about the evolution and development of the region are produced by the false expectations that international elites have about what the region should be doing.’

Countries included in the survey were Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

Link: 2006 Latinobarometro Survey (Spanish, PDF file) http://www.latinobarometro.org/fileadmin/intranet/Informe_Latinobarometro_2006.pdf

Venezuelanalysis.com: Ongoing News and Analysis from Venezuela www.venezuelanalysis.com/news.php?newsno=2179

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