Mérida, 11th July 2014 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – In a respected regional poll measuring citizens’ perception of their democracy, Venezuelans have given the second most favourable response in Latin America, leaving the report’s authors scratching their heads.
The poll also found that the top five countries by positive citizen perception of democracy were all governed by left-wing administrations.
The study, entitled “Images of Countries and Democracies”, was conducted by Chilean-based organisation Latinobarometro, which has conducted research into citizen opinion in Latin America since 1995.
This latest poll, conducted in 18 Latin American countries and relying on over 19,000 interviews, sought to measure citizens’ opinion of how democratic their own country is. Latin Americans were asked to rate democracy in their country on a scale of 1 (“not democratic”) to 10 (totally democratic”).
With an average score of 7, Venezuela was the highest placed country in the region after Uruguay, which had 7.6. Guatemala (5.4) and El Salvador (5.4) were given the least positive scores by their citizens. The regional average was 6.2.
The results surprised the authors of the poll’s report, who said that the findings differed from what “experts” such as political scientists have to say about the countries of the region, based on factors such as respect for institutional rules and the formal separation of powers.
“Venezuela doesn’t stop surprising…according to Venezuelans, Venezuela is more democratic than the U.S. or Spain,” wrote the authors.
However the results match those of other Latinobarometro polls, which have found that Venezuelans have the strongest democratic values in the region and an above-average positive opinion of how their democracy works in practice.
The recent report further notes; “The five countries that most appreciate their democracy (Uruguay, Venezuela, Argentina, Ecuador and Nicaragua) are governed by the left wing…is there a relationship there or is it just by chance?”
In an attempt to answer their own question, the authors argue, “The democracy that is in the minds of the people is linked to the ups and downs of the economy, the performance of governments, [and] the advance that peoples have made against inequality: much more than the state of law, the separation of powers of the functioning of democratic institutions”.
“The democracy of institutions isn’t what is evaluated upon answering this question, but rather it would appear to be the extent of social inclusion [in society]”, the report’s authors claim.