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Venezuelans: Uncertain, free traders and looking for leadership

By Miguel Octavio

15.12.04 | A new poll was released today done by the firm Kissinger/McLarty in association with Zogby. A summary can be found here and what I think is the whole poll can be found here. A friend and reader sent me this morning all of the results of the poll.

My first conclusion is that Venezuelans are not very happy with the current leadership on either side disliking both the Government and the opposition. 55% of Venezuelans have an unfavorable opinion of President Chavez, but 56% of Venezuelans have an unfavorable opinion of opposition leaders. Thus, you might say Venezuela is still looking and searching for a good leader.

Even worse, 53% of all Venezuelans think Chavez won in the recall vote thanks to fraud, while only 37% think he won fair and square. Similarly, 57% of those polled think the country is moving in the wrong direction. Even worse, Venezuela feel the country is quite unstable with 53% thinking the current political situation is either unstable or very unstable, with 49% thinking that things are going to get worse in the next 12 months economically. Adding to this, a huge 58% of those responding said they were concerned about their ability for keeping their job in the next twelve months.

What I found remarkable from the poll, is the globalized image that Venezuelans have of their economy and their dislike for all things Cuban, in contrast with Hugo Chávez. 90% of Venezuelans think that it is better if international companies invest here. 83% think the Government should do more to attract foreign investment. 63% think Venezuela is losing an opportunity in not joining ALCA. 95% think that property rights should be respected. 92% that the country’s international debt should be paid. 92% think the Venezuelan economy should be more open to foreign investment. But in contradiction with these free trade thinking, 44% think the Government should nationalize companies to advance the revolution.

Cuba and all things Cuban do badly in the poll. 92 % of those polled said Venezuela should not be like Cuba, with that country having a very favorable opinion in only 13% of Venezuelans, versus 49% for the United States and 51% for American companies. In contrast, only 5% had an unfavorable view of the US while 54% had an unfavorable opinion of Cuba.

57% of Venezuelans think that Chavez does not represent the interests of the majority and 61% agree or somewhat agree with the statement that he will never step down from power.

Thus, Venezuela appears to be a country looking for leadership and a majority of Venezuelans appear to be against many of the precepts of Chavez’ revolution, but doubt he will leave. They feel the country is fairly unstable and so is their job. They dislike Cuba, are for free trade and somewhat pro-American. So, you may ask, why did they vote for Chavez? Maybe they didn’t!

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