Sunday, June 26, 2005

What the numbers show 

On Wednesday I posted the text of a Consultores 21 poll on Venezuela. Consultores 21 is one of Venezuela’s larger polling firms and it should be noted that it has an anti-Chavez stance. Given that on Wednesday I didn’t have the time to translate and analyze the poll let me do so now.

Right off the bat we start with something that we already knew but bears repeating – Chavez is popular and his opposition isn’t:

53.7% believe in President Chavez while only 22.6% believe in the opposition and 23.7% didn’t answer

So Chavez has the support of 2 and 1/2 times as many people as the opposition. This shows both how much support Chavez has and how much the opposition, through it actions, has turned people against it. It also explains why the old opposition slogan, “elections now”, has fallen into disuse.

Next we get opinions on basic concepts:

58% agree that “Now Venezuela belongs to all” (Ahora Venezuela es de todos)

This is the icon that I put at the top of the links section of the blog. It is a symbol commonly used by the Venezuelan government to show that, in contrast to when Venezuela was run by and for a small minority, Venezuela is now run for the benefit of all its citizens. And clearly the majority of its citizens believe that is indeed the case.

55% agree partially or totally that “the government of Hugo Chavez is the best of the democratic era”

This is one of the most interesting findings of the poll for me. I have always noted that most older Venezuelans who can remember many of the previous governments overwhelmingly say the Chavez government is clearly the best – ie, much less corrupt, does more for average people, more democratic, etc. In fact there was one poll I saw a couple of years ago that broke down Chavez’s level of support by age and interestingly enough he had higher levels of support amongst older people than younger people. But this result, in which people say not only that the Chavez government is good but that it is in effect better than any government they can remember, is a tremendous endorsement of Chavez’s achievements.

45% agree totally or partially that “they have benefited from the oil wealth”. It is pointed out that during previous governments of the democratic era, the percentage of people who said they benefited from the oil wealth, never even, in the best of cases, was 20%.

The Venezuelan Information Office use to have a nice poster that said “In the past Venezuela’s oil only benefited a few, now it benefits a few million”. That is indeed very true. In the past it was the oil workers, the corrupt political and business class, and their accomplices that benefited. Most Venezuelans were frozen out of the benefits from the oil revenues. But with the government now spending the billions it gets in oil windfall on social programs for average people the benefits of Venezuela having oil are seen by a great many. This result shows how accurate that VIO poster was.

Here are a couple key results from the economic realm:

In May, 58% of those questioned consider their personal economic situation as having improved while 41% view it as having gotten worse. 54.4% say they are satisfied with their current economic situation.

Opposition propaganda tries to assert that there has been no improvement in peoples lives under Chavez and that his support is based entirely on yet to be fulfilled promises. These numbers show that for the majority of Venezuelan’s that is false – most Venezuelan’s have seen improvement in their own personal situation and, rather surprisingly for a poor country, the majority are content with their own economic situation.

On the political front here are some more numbers:

Chavez’s overall popularity is 57%. 59% think that Chavez thinks more of the country as a whole than in himself. He is not seen as egocentric but the opposition is seen as egocentric.

If elections were today the political parties people would vote for are:

MVR [Chavez’s party] 41.7%

Primero Justicia 9.1%

Accion Democratica 6.2%

Proyecto Venezuela 5.2%

Copei 1.5%

These numbers yet again show far ahead of all his potential rivals Chavez is. All the opposition political parties combined don’t even come close to his level of support. Also, the opposition likes to paint Chavez a megalomaniac who is out for himself. However, according to this poll Chavez is seen as working in the interest of the greater good while the opposition is seen as self centered. This is the oppositions fundamental problem. Despite the vast amounts of money spent on its propaganda most Venezuelans see right through it.


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