The study of the Legislative Directory organization reveals that there are four regional leaders with 50% or more approval. The high disapproval of Piñera would be more linked to political factors than to the consequences of the pandemic. There are only four countries in the region with government leaders that averaged 50% or more citizen support between September and October: El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Uruguay and Mexico. On the other hand, there are six leaders who have the same percentage or more of a negative image, with Lenín Moreno, from Ecuador (90%), and Sebastián Piñera (70%) leading the worst index, according to the study released by the independent organization Directory Legislative, based in Buenos Aires and Washington.
The report shows that some leaders were strengthened at the beginning of the pandemic, between March and April, especially those who took more active positions in terms of prevention measures such as Iván Duque, in Colombia, Martín Vizcarra, in Peru, and Alberto Fernández, in Argentina. It is the so-called “bubble phenomenon”. “In this highly changing and uncertain scenario, the surveys favored governments that took more active positions in terms of prevention measures, for example, those of Colombia, Peru and Argentina. In some cases this, in turn, contributed to temporarily mitigate tensions with the local opposition or other local leaderships ”, Felicitas Torrecilla, Research Coordinator of the Legislative Directory, explains to La Tercera. However, that rise ended up falling in the following months. While the leaders of the latter countries – with the exception of Vizcarra, who was removed from office on Monday – decrease their support, the presidents of Brazil and Mexico appear to be strengthening. This is interesting, since neither Jair Bolsonaro nor Andrés Manuel López Obrador took very strong measures to control the spread of Covid-19. The rating curve for their images indicates that they lost support early in the pandemic, but began to recover in recent months. In fact, according to the study, Bolsonaro is the only President who in the last two months reached his peak of popularity so far this year, with 43%. “We have not noticed a direct relationship between the evolution of the epidemiological situation and the evolution of government approval in each country. In other words, our general observation is that the assessment is not so related to the results obtained in health terms, but rather to the socioeconomic impact of the measures taken to achieve them (quarantine, suspension of economic activities, etc.) ”, explains Torrecilla .
Thus, after the “bubble phenomenon” of March and April, the level of approval by governments has gradually returned to the level they had before the outbreak of the pandemic on the continent, as previous conflicts such as social protests in Colombia, the discussions on the judiciary in Argentina, the delicate fiscal situation in Costa Rica, and the difficult relationship between the Executive and Legislative in Peru. Moreno and Piñera The leaders of Ecuador and Chile are the ones with the greatest disapproval in the region, partly as a result of the respective social processes that both countries experienced at the end of last year. These Presidents began the year with low approval levels, with 10% for Piñera between January and February and 13% for Moreno. Those responsible for the report point out that, compared to the percentages of the January-February two-month period, “it must be said that Piñera -despite being one of the presidents with the least positive image of the region- has managed to rebound a bit, stabilizing around 20 % to 22%. Moreno definitely could not reverse his loss of prestige ”.
Our impression is that in the case of Piñera, the low level of image is fundamentally linked to political factors not associated with the pandemic (social exhaustion with traditional politics, uncertainty caused by multiple cabinet changes, etc.). After the catalytic effect of the recent referendum, it is going to be interesting to see how his image evolves from now on. Felicitas Torrecilla, Research Coordinator of the Legislative Directory In Ecuador, meanwhile, the effects of the pandemic were “serious and sudden”, adding to an already very deteriorated economic situation. Images of people dying on the streets of Guayaquil marked the first months of the health crisis, when the virus had just touched the region. On the other hand, there are the countries with the best figures such as El Salvador, the Dominican Republic and Uruguay, all of them between their first year or their first months in office.
Full report Imagen-del-Poder-Noviembre-2020