The president’s approval ratings continue to slide

| Oct. 23, 2014 | Caracas, Venezuela

Published by Economist Intelligence Unit


The approval rating of the president, Nicolás Maduro, has dropped by almost 5 percentage points since July, owing in large part to the country's ongoing economic malaise.


Mr Maduro's popularity continues to wane just 18 months since assuming the presidency in the wake of the death of the former president, Hugo Chávez (1999-2013). A poll by Datanálisis, an independent pollster, put Mr Maduro's approval rating at just 30.2% in September, down from 35.4% in July. Mr Maduro's favourable rating peaked in November 2013 (at 50.4%), when he ordered the military to take over a major electronics chain, forcing it to sell goods at what the government called "fair prices." At his most popular, Mr Chávez enjoyed figures in the seventies, despite deep political divisions within the country.

The poor state of the economy—particularly shortages of basic goods and skyrocketing inflation—is driving down Mr Maduro's approval rating. Shortages of basic goods are common, and supermarket lines can extend into the thousands; annual inflation stood at 63.4% in July (the last month for which official data have been released). In the Datanálisis poll, 80.1% of the 1,300 people interviewed indicated that they had an unfavourable view of the economy. A similar figure (81.6% of those polled) viewed the country's overall situation negatively, up from 80.2% in July. The soaring crime rate is another major factor for voters.

Many chavistas, who adamantly still support Mr Chávez's ideology, are failing to back Mr Maduro, his hand-picked successor. The latest polls are likely to consolidate this feeling among these disaffected chavistas. Members of the ruling Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela (PSUV) will also be taking note of the figures; there are deepening splits within the party. Also noteworthy for PSUV insiders will be the fact that Mr Maduro's opponents continue to enjoy higher approval ratings than the president. Leopoldo López (an opposition heavyweight jailed since early 2014) had an approval rating of 45.6% in the September Datanálisis poll, up by almost 10 percentage points since he lead nationwide protests against the Maduro administration in February. Henrique Capriles, the opposition leader who lost the 2013 presidential election by just 1.5 percentage points to Mr Maduro, enjoys an approval rating of 42.1%, up from 39.7% in July.

Impact on the forecast

The latest poll numbers support our forecast of a further deterioration in Mr Maduro's popularity.