Venezuelans Optimistic and 54% Approve of Chávez

According to a yearly poll called “Iberobarómentro,” 54% of Venezuelans approved of the Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez's management of the country as of last May, and Venezuelans are optimistic about their economic future.
58.2% of Venezuelans said they "sympathize" with President Chávez. Education, health care, and international diplomacy are  his strong points, while security, unemployment and corruption are weak points, says the poll. (ABN)

Mérida, July 31, 2008 (– According to a yearly poll called “Iberobarómentro” conducted by the Iberian-American Consortium of Market Investigation and Advice Enterprises (CIMA), 54% of Venezuelans approved of the Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez's management of the country as of last May, and Venezuelans are optimistic about their economic future.

When asked to indicate on a scale of 1-100 how much they “sympathize” with President Chávez, Venezuelans on average marked 58.2. When people in the other 21 countries polled were asked how much they sympathize with Chávez, they marked 26 on average. 
Venezuelans rated their sympathy for former Cuban President Fidel Castro an average 35.7, while in the region as a whole respondents marked 27.7% for Castro, who is a close ally of President Chávez.

The president with the highest approval rating was Álvaro Uribe of Colombia (85%), who recently celebrated the liberation of 15 FARC hostages and renewed diplomatic relations with Venezuela after eight months of diplomatic discord. The presidents of Brazil and Uruguay both received 67% approval, and Mexico’s president received 61%.

The Chávez administration was evaluated most favorably in the areas of education, health care, and relations with neighboring countries. 61% of Venezuelans rated the government’s educational policy as “very good” or “good,” 53% rated health care policy as such, and 52% commended Chávez’s relationship with neighboring countries.

However, the Venezuelan government’s management of security, unemployment, and corruption, which were considered the three gravest problems in the region as a whole, received a rating of “very good” or “good” from only 19%, 26%, and 18% of Venezuelans, respectively.

Overall, Venezuelans displayed optimism about their economic prospects. 72% of the Venezuelans polled predicted that their economic situation in one year would be “better” (51%) or “the same” (21%) as it is now, and 75% reported that their current economic situation is “better” (48%) or “the same” (27%) as one year ago.   

When asked about the presence of various forms of discrimination in their country, Venezuelans deemed themselves to be among the most tolerant people in the region. 85% said there is no racial discrimination against black people in their country, 91% said they there is no discrimination against immigrants from other countries, and 95% said there is no discrimination against Jews.

On average, among the 22 countries polled, 50% of respondents said there was discrimination against black people in their countries, 31% said there was discrimination against immigrants, and 26% against Jews.

Confidence in Venezuelan social institutions was quite varied. The institutions in which Venezuelans had the most confidence were the educational system (75%), the armed forces (58%), banks (58%), and private businesses (50%).

Venezuela ranked 3rd out of the 22 countries polled in confidence in its top legislative body, the National Assembly (42%), but confidence in the highly-politicized Venezuelan church (55%) ranked 17th in the region.

Institutions which received fewer votes of confidence were political parties (15%), the police (18%), unions (21%), NGOs (28%), televised news (34%), the justice system (36%), and the press (42%). 

With regard to international institutions, Venezuela ranked 20th in terms of the how many respondents had a “positive image” of the United Nations (41%). In contrast, Venezuelans were by a wide margin the most supportive of the Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR), with 70% responding positively to this regional economic integration group of which Venezuela is perched to become a full member.

As for the region as a whole, 80% of Latin Americans believe that democracy is “the best system of government,” according to Iberobarómetro. In addition, more people in Latin America (41%) thought their government was run by “the will of the people” than in any other region of the world.

The annual Iberobarómetro survey began in 1992. This year, results were based on 12,401 interviews in 22 countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, México, Nicaragua, Panamá, Paraguay, Perú, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Spain, Venezuela, the United States, and Uruguay.

Other Recent Polls

The results of several other recent polls are similar to the results of Iberobarómetro.

The Mexican polling firm Consulta Mitofsky reported in mid-June that Chávez is supported by 59% of Venezuelans, an approval rating superseded only by Mexico’s Felipe Calderón (61%) and Colombia’s Uribe (84%), according to the Venezuelan newspaper Panorama.

According to the journalist and former Vice President of Venezuela, José Vicente Rangel, the polling firm Keller and Associates, which usually leans toward the anti-Chávez opposition, reported that Chávez’s approval rating in early June was 57%.

In late June, Rangel cited a poll by the generally pro-Chávez Venezuelan Data Analysis Institute (IVAD) showing that 56.8% of Venezuelans said they would vote for Chávez if he were running for president today, while 26.1% said they would not.

The IVAD poll also showed that 53% of Venezuelans thought the general situation in the country had gotten better over the last three years, and 67% predicted that it would get better in the coming years.