In early December, the annual Latinobarometro poll results were released. This annual poll surveys respondents throughout Latin America about politics, their government and their views of the problems facing their countries. In a number of areas, Salvadorans were some of the most pessimistic in Latin America about the status of their democracy and the ability of the government to solve their problems. Here is a collection of the poll results.
- When asked to rate how democratic El Salvador was on a scale of 1 to 10, Salvadorans rated it 4.8, only Paraguay was lower. Only 22% of Salvadorans would describe their country as "very democratic."
- Only 14% of Salvadorans believe their government is run for the good of all the people. (Only Ecuador was lower), and only 25% are satisfied with the state of their democracy, a level which dropped 12% in just the past year.
- Only 23% believed elections in El Salvador are clean (only Ecuador and Paraguay had lower levels of confidence). The average in Latin America was 41%.
- Although civic movements often bring protesters to the streets in El Salvador, only 6% of Salvadorans believe this is an effective way to bring about change, which is the lowest percentage in Latin America.
- On polls regarding participation in activities such as working for a political candidate, talking with friends about politics, or attending demonstrations, Salvadorans participated at some of the lowest rates.
- Only 8% of Salvadorans believe the economic situation of the country is good or very good, compared to a Latin America average of 18% and 43% of Venezuelans, and they do not believe El Salvador's economy improved in the past 12 months, nor that it will improve in 2007.
- Crime is viewed by Salvadorans as the most important problem facing their country, a view that is shared by Venezuelans about their country.
- Yet there is some optimism in El Salvador. 57% of Salvadorans believe that someone who is born poor in the country can become rich (although the reality of social mobility is much different).
- When asked to rank their political views, 50% of Salvadorans viewed themselves on the right side of the spectrum, 21% on the left and 29% in the center.
My conclusion -- the significant lack of satisfaction with government in El Salvador makes the ARENA government susceptible to defeat at the polls in 2009. Yet there is no evidence at all that a significant portion of Salvadorans see the FMLN as offering an alternative that they want to follow, beyond the hard core 30% support which the FMLN has in virtually every poll.
You can read the entire report (in Spanish) and an article about the overall results of the poll in the Economist magazine.