Salvador Sánchez Cerén completed his second year as El Salvador's president this week. Recent public opinion polls show that slightly more Salvadorans currently approve of his performance than disapprove, but his approval ratings are well below the ratings of his two predecessors, Mauricio Funes and Tony Saca, at similar points in their administrations.
According to a La Prensa Grafica poll in May 2016, 48% of Salvadorans approve of the job Sánchez Cerén is doing while 44% disapprove. That is a marked reversal from February when only 36% approved and 55% disapproved. In February, murders in the country had skyrocketed to their highest levels, prompting the government to introduce "exceptional measures" to combat crime including greater militarization of public security efforts and crack downs on gang leaders in the prisons. Salvadorans give Sánchez Cerén an average rating of 5.6 on a scale of 1 to 10 on his job performance in the LPG survey.
In his report on the second anniversary of his administration, the president pointed to the improving poll numbers as support for the public security measures that his government is taking.
The LPG poll also asked citizens about their overall view of the state of the country at the end of the president's second term. As has been true for more than a decade, Salvadorans are pessimistic about their country. 76.8% currently view the country's general situation as bad or very bad, a slight improvement from February 2016 when the total reached 82.9%. And it is clear that crime and violence are the overall factor in this rating with 69.8% of Salvadorans viewing it as the principal problem affecting the country, compared to only 12.3% focused on the economy.
|Source: LPG Datos|
Another recent public opinion poll was discussed by InsightCrime which looked at polling by El Diario de Hoy. In a slight contrast to the president's improving ratings since his exceptional measures to combat crime were introduced, the EDH poll shows skepticisim about the effectiveness of those measures:
When asked "Do you believe the current extraordinary measures are producing good results?" the responses were
No -- 58%A similar percentage doubted the measures would produce good results in the future.
Yes -- 39%
In the EDH poll, 78% disapproved of the truce among the gangs and the government entered during the Mauricio Funes administration and which Sánchez Cerén has rejected. The country's attorney general is now prosecuting former officials involved with the truce.
The EDH poll also got answers to this question "Which of the following challenges facing the country should be combated as a national priority?"
Crime and violence: 46.3%Latin America blogger Boz commented on those results:
Second, the number of voters listing corruption as the country's top problem is incredibly high. One in three people list corruption as their top concern, in spite of the country being the world's most violent and one of the poorest in the hemisphere. That shows a real disillusionment with the country's political system. It also suggests perhaps many citizens see the bigger picture and recognize that corruption within government institutions is why the country has as many security and economic problems as it does.