Poll: Chavez Enjoys 71.8% Approval Rating in Venezuela

Chavez currently enjoys one of his highest approval ratings since he was first elected in 1998. The social programs known as missions continue to be extremely popular, while unemployment is considered to be the country's most serious problem.

Caracas, Venezuela, July 27, 2005 —President Chavez of Venezuela enjoys an approval rating of 71.8%, according to the opposition-aligned Venezuelan polling firm Datanalisis. The poll was conducted June 14 to 20 and shows a slight decline in Chavez’s popularity in other indicators, but overall his popularity is at its highest point since the honeymoon he enjoyed shortly after his first election in 1998.

The poll, which was presented to journalists this past Tuesday, shows that Chavez’s popularity had declined slightly between May and June, but that the difference was still within the margin of error of 2.7% and thus practically the same as before. Also, according to José Vicente Leon, the director of Danalisis, the percentage of Venezuelans who trust Chavez stood at 58.7% and those who said they would vote for Chavez if elections were held now, stood at 54.7%. As such the percentage is only slightly lower than the 59% the voted in favor of Chavez remaining in office during last year’s recall referendum.

In terms of how Venezuelans define themselves, 46.3% consider themselves “Chavistas,” 35.6% percent are non-aligned, and 14.6% consider themselves supporters of the opposition.

When asked to name the country’s most serious problems, 49.2% of Venezuelans said that unemployment is clearly the number one problem. This was followed by insecurity (18%) and a wide variety of other problems that fall within the poll’s margin of error.

45.6% of those polled said that they had in some way benefited from the social programs known as the “missions.” The one that the largest number of Venezuelans benefited from was Misión Mercal, which provides subsidized food in 14,000 community stores throughout the country. The next most used mission was Misión Barrio Adentro, which provides 12,000 Cuban community doctors for free medical treatment. Of those who used the missions, almost all said that they were satisfied with them, with 92.7% of the Mercal beneficiaries reporting satisfaction and 83% of Barrio Adentro beneficiaries.

The program with the highest level of dissatisfaction was Misión Vivienda (15% dissatisfaction), which provides public housing to Venezuela’s poor. The program has been plagued with problems as it has proven very difficult to build as many homes as are currently needed by the population.

The most popular institutions in the country are the Catholic Church (78.7% approval), followed by the banks (75.2%), the mass media (75%), and Chavez (71.8%). Leon speculated that the reason the banks faired so well in this survey, compared to the general disgust that has often been shown towards them because of exorbitantly high interest rates, is that interest rates have come down significantly recently, but especially for home loans, largely as a result of government regulation.

An institution that shows a disturbingly high lack of confidence, according to Leon, is the National Electoral Council (CNE), with 42.7% expressing a lack of confidence in this institution. The CNE has been under steady opposition attack since the August 2004 recall referendum, but especially in the lead-up to the upcoming August 7th city council elections.

Finally, in terms of ideological self-definition, the poll states that 26.4% of Venezuelans support socialism, 15.5% support capitalism, 7.8% support neither type of system, and the rest (49.5%) did not answer or were undecided.