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.

By Gregory Wilpert - Venezuelanalysis.com
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(venezuelanalysis.com)--Venezuelans view their democracy more favorably than thecitizens of all other Latin American countries view their own democracies,except Uruguay,according to a new survey released by the Chilean NGO Latinbarometro lastSaturday. Also, Venezuelais in first place in several measures of political participation, compared toall other Latin American countries.

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

Similarly, Venezuelans say more often than the citizens allother countries except Uruguayans that they are satisfied with their democracy.57% of Venezuelans are happy with Venezuelan democracy, which is the secondhighest percentage, with 66% of Uruguayans expressing satisfaction. The averagefor 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 since1998, the year Chavez was elected, than any other country. The percentageexpressing satisfaction increased from 32% to 57% in those eight years.

In terms of political participation, Venezuelans indicatethat they are more politically active than the citizens of any other surveyedcountry. Venezuelans have the highest percentage of citizens that say theydiscuss politics regularly (47%, average is 26%), who say that they try toconvince others on political matters (32%, average is 16%), who participate indemonstrations (26%, average is 12%), and who say they are active in apolitical party (25%, average is 9%).

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

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

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

The Latinobarometro report contradicted the commonperception that Latin America was headingtowards more authoritarian regimes with the recent political shift towards theleft. “It is clear that there is no authoritarian regression [in LatinAmerica], which is demonstrated by the fact that 14 presidents weresubstituted, for various reasons and due to popular pressure prior to the endof their mandate and within the valid legal framework in each of the countries,”said the report.

According to Latinobarometro, “An important part of theerrors of perception about the evolution and development of the region areproduced by the false expectations that international elites have about whatthe 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: 2006Latinobarometro Survey (Spanish, PDF file)

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