Discontent in Latin America

A recent article in The Economist discusses the results of a recent LatinobarĂ³metro poll, which is published exclusively by The Economist and has been conducted since 1995 in 18 different countries.  As the chart “A bare democratic majority” shows (below), respondents’ preference for democracy over other types of governments has decreased sharply in Latin America over the last two years.  The article speculates that this is the result of high levels of violent crime, especially in Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico.  The second graph from the article, “Disgruntled in Santiago,” charts the percent of respondents that said they were “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” with “the way democracy works” in their countries in 2001, 2010, and 2011.  While a larger percentage reported being satisfied in 2011 than they did in 2001 in every country except for Costa Rica and Mexico, a majority of countries saw a decline in those satisfied from 2010 to 2011.  Across the region as a whole, only 39% of respondents said they were satisfied, which is 5 points lower than last year.   There was a particularly profound drop in satisfaction in Chile (from 56% in 2010 to 32% in 2011), which the article suggests may be the result of middle class discontentedness with public services and the high price of education.  According to the article, these results are surprising as concerns about the economy and unemployment are down to their “pre-crisis level.”  However, as the third graph, “Crimewatch,” indicates, concerns about crime have risen in Latin America even as concerns about the economy have waned.  This is particularly true of Venezuela, in which 61% of respondents said that crime was the main problem in their country.



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