Waylaid Dialectic

April 12, 2013

Chavez de Novo

Filed under: Governance — terence @ 7:21 pm

Presumably because they’re liberals and the rules of the game mean that Amercian liberals are prohibited from saying too many nice things about Chavez the New Yorker (famed fact-checkers and all) f*ucks up its reportage on Chavez. Crooked Timber has the tale although, because it’s Chavez and because this is the internet after all, the comment thread there descends into fisticuffs and tears. Oh well.

Meanwhile, Gallup’s been asking Venezuelans what they think.

On Leadership

Views of Chavez’s Leadership: In 2012, the last full year of Chavez’s presidency, the leader enjoyed a 57% approval rating, among the highest Gallup found during his last six years in office.

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My thought: plenty of OECD leaders would be over the moon with those ratings.

On corruption in business

Venezuelans Perceive More Corruption in Business: During Chavez’s tenure, he nationalized more than 1,000 companies, but this does not appear to have positively influenced Venezuelans’ views of their country’s businesses.

In 2012, nearly three-quarters (73%) of Venezuelans said corruption was widespread in businesses, up from 56% in 2007. This upward trend also stands in stark contrast to other Latin American countries run by more market-friendly governments such as Brazil and Mexico, where the percentage of residents judging businesses as corrupt has steadily declined over the same time period.

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My thought – having a look at the time series here this has trended up (beyond error bars) over the years since 2006 that surveys were conducted. What is this actually telling us about Chavez though? It might tell us more about his opponents in the private sector than about anything Chavez did.

On corruption more generally

Venezuelans Saw Chavez Government as Corrupt: Chavez’s critics in Venezuela depicted him as a near-tyrant with a record of cronyism. In fact, the government became much larger and more powerful during Chavez’s rule, and large majorities of Venezuelans saw it as corrupt in his final six years. In 2012, 63% of Venezuelans believed there was corruption in government, similar to the 68% who said so in 2011. This would seem to support the opposition’s narrative that Chavez ran a corrupt, unaccountable government. Chavez also made combatting corruption a major plank of his platform in his original campaign for office, indicating much of the country believes his government failed to deliver on this objective. However, this failure does not seem to have had much impact on Chavez’s overall popularity.

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My thoughts…yes but there’s no real evidence here to suggest corruption increased under his tenure.

On poverty

Majority Satisfied With Chavez’s Efforts to Deal With Poverty: Six in 10 Venezuelans in 2012 said they were satisfied with the country’s efforts to deal with the poor, an objective of Chavez and his administration.

On democratic freedoms

Venezuelans’ Faith in Elections and Media Intact: If Chavez was granting himself an excessive amount of authority over the election system — as his opponents claim — many Venezuelans did not seem to notice. In 2012, 59% of the country believed in the honesty of elections, a record high, and a propitious number for a country about to embark on a new set of elections. And, 66% said the media has a lot of freedom — equal to the median for Latin American and Caribbean countries. The 66% saying the media has a lot of freedom in Venezuela also represents an increase from 2011, when 58% of Venezuelans said the same.

My thoughts…tyranny! not.

On safety

Safety Still Significant Issue: Both candidates have pledged to take on Venezuela’s crime problems for clear reasons. Compared with the rest of the region, Venezuela is unique in the relatively high percentage of residents who do not feel safe walking alone at night. In 2012, 74% of adults said they felt unsafe walking alone at night, far higher than in any other Latin American country — a region where residents feel less safe than in any other regions of the world — and one of the highest measurements in all of the 160 countries where Gallup surveys. Moreover, this figure has remained remarkably high over the past six years, suggesting a failure by the Chavez government and the need for whomever his replacement is to address this important issue.

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My thoughts…I checked on World View, these numbers make Venezuela the least safe country by surveyed perception on Earth. Safety is, I think, the biggest failing that can fairly reasonably be laid at his feet.

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