Friday, June 04, 2004

More on the latest IUDOP poll

My brief comments on the latest IUDOP poll prompted this email exchange with Dean Brackley, S.J., who’s more in touch with popular sentiment than I can ever claim to be:

Dean: On the IUDOP poll.... While 67% of those polled found "algun cambio positivo" in Flores administration and this was prominently reported (e.g., in the LPG), 53% found "algun cambio negativo" -- which was under-reported or unreported, giving the impression of a much more favorable reading of the Flores administration than was the case.

And how 'bout the fact that 37.7% of the population polled considers the election of Saca "illegitimate"!?
David: Looked at this again. 32.9 percent found NOTHING positive in the Flores administration. But 47.1% found NOTHING negative (no negative changes) in his government. Given the way that's phrased, this is really a high degree of support. For example, this is such an open-ended question that if I thought milk prices had gone up, I could have said that was negative. But nearly half of the people couldn't think of anything. Of course, you have to put that together with other questions, where clearly there's alot to be desired (in economic issues, as I mentioned).

That the election was illegitimate as rated by 37.7%, and the previous 32.9% who saw absolutely nothing positive in the Flores administration IS important. It helps validate the idea that ES is extremely polarized. And while you can't just discard the 40%, and while apparently the incoming govt of Saca realizes that the governability of El Salvador depends on concertacion with the left, still the consistently high approval rating of Paco Flores (like it or not) in this day and age in Latin America, is incredibly high. Compare to Fox, to Lula, to Kirchner. And write it off to the buoyancy of the economy due to remittances, or false consciousness, but the reality is still there. Only 18.3 percent of those polled evaluated the Flores presidency as bad or very bad. 59% said good or very good, with 22.7 saying "regular". That's pretty remarkable.

Dean: This is a good observation [referring to the first point above]

The question seemed to me a little strange, but the answers are also puzzling: 47% with nothing negative to report! My point was the imbalance of reporting in the Salvadoran media.

And that Flores is highly rated in these times is remarkable. Would this be do to the lack of opposition, or imparcial, media (compared to Mexico and Argentina, or most other places) and the low level of education in El Salvador?
David: Yes, your point about coverage in media is a good one.

It's paradoxical to me why people can be so discontent, and at the same time think that these ARENA governments are good for them. Well, in the last election, it seemed to be a combination of fear of the unknown (or worse) from the alternative (FMLN), plus comfort in the known... People have commented that the average person sees the young Paco Flores, who has good relations with the US (where most salvadorans place their economic hopes--remember that most would leave tomorrow if they got the chance!), makes people more comfortable with a slowly changing status quo...

The orthodoxy of the left, failure to provide a reasonable alternative, I fear, contributes to this phenomenon.... giving people no where else to go.

By the way, this article in The Onion reminded me a bit of El Salvador's March elections.

Dean: From conversations with ordinary working-class folks, I believe you are right that THEIR vote for ARENA, the vote of people with precarious domestic economies mostly reflects fear of the unknown -- not just fear of the FMLN, but also, and maybe more, fear of the reaction from the right here and the U.S. government. Their fear is surely about economics -- that remittances would be cut off, that jobs would be lost. How much did they fear political disturbance, as well?

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