Uruguay is the country in Latinamerica which most supports democracy and has most trust in democratic governance, according to the 2006 edition of the Latinbarometer, which measures the region’s democratic credentials.
The report, which was released in Chile, also underlines that overall support for democracy in the continent increased from 53% in 2005 to 58% in 2006.
"We’re facing a situation where clearly there’s no democratic crisis or weak democracy, on the contrary a strong build up of the democratic system", said sociologist Marta Lagos who chairs Latinobarometer.
"The peoples of the region are learning to take advantage of democracy, becoming democrats, to use democratic instruments and to demand democratic institutions to deliver," said Lagos who chairs the non profit organization.
Contrary to ten years ago Latin-Americans overwhelmingly favor political stability and social equality and are less "ideologized" as to which economic models to follow.
The ranking shows democracy is supported by 77% in Uruguay; 75% in Costa Rica; 74% in Argentina; 71% in Dominican Republic and 70% in Venezuela. On the other extreme figure: Paraguay and Guatemala with 41%; Brazil 46% and Honduras 51%.
However the countries with the largest turnaround in support are Honduras, 18 points; Peru, 15 points; Bolivia, 13 points; Dominican Republic 11 points. Other increases correspond to Brazil and Argentina with 9 points each.
As to the reasons for the recovery, according to Latinobarometer, three points can be tracked to elections (21 between 2005 and 2006) plus a resurgence of the economies. Nevertheless support for democracy dropped in Venezuela, 6 points; Ecuador, 5 points and Mexico, 5 points.
Trust in democracy to achieve society’s goals also has Uruguay leading with 79%; Venezuela, 78%; Dominican Republic, 72% and Argentina 70%. Skepticism is greatest in Salvador, 39%; Ecuador 38% and Paraguay, 38%. Countries where trust in democracy to reach goals has grown most are Bolivia, 12 points; Venezuela, 10 points; Guatemala, 8 points; Paraguay, 5 points.
But satisfaction with democracy has also increased from 31 to 36% this year with the largest advances in Panama, 20 points; Mexico, 17 points; Argentina, 16 points; Bolivia, 15 points and Brazil 14 points.
Regarding leaders, 54% of Latin-Americans approve their performances and 47% trust them. The best positioned in the region are Brazil’s Lula da Silva, 37%; Chile’s Michelle Bachelet, 32%; Colombia’s Alvaro Uribe 30% and Venezuela’s Chavez, 28%. They are followed by Uruguay’s Tabare Vazquez; Argentina’s Nestor Kirchner and Bolivia’s Evo Morales.
As to negative support, Fidel Castro leads with 41%, followed by Chavez with 39%, however Cuba’s leader is known by 79% of Latin-Americans and Chavez 71%. Taking United States president George Bush as reference, he has a positive image of 30% in the region and negative of 39%. He’s most liked in Central America and Colombia, and loathed in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay.
As to who or which institutions are the most powerful, 59% replied "governments"; big corporations, 46%; political parties, 31% and Legislative branches, 27%.
Latinbarometer is a non profit organization based in Santiago de Chile which since 1995 has been assessing support for democracy in the region. The 2006 edition included 20.234 interviews in 18 different countries