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11/3/11

Presidential (un)popularity: Evo Morales is giving Sebastian Piñera a run for his money

By now, most people with at least one eye on LatAm political affairs know that President Sebastian Piñera of Chile is the least popular president in the whole region, polling somewhere between 28% and 30% approval according to the survey you prefer. However President Evo Morales of Bolivia is now giving him a run for his money, as this chart of Evo's polling from September 2008 to October 2011 shows:


The newest number from the reputable Ipsos/Apoyo that does this poll every month, that of October 2011, came out yesterday and showed just 35% approval for the chunky sweatered one, with his disapproval rating moving up from 51% to 55% (the other 10% just said "meh", I suppose). According to those polled (around 1300 people monthly), the recent droop is mainly to to Evo's heavy-handed dealing with the indigenous Tipnis marchers (a subject we haven't covered here at IKN, but if you care enough here's a Google English language page with all you need) that included police bashing them over the head and then the eventual Evo capitulation on Oct 24th. What's most interesting about this is the way Evo, by turning against indigenous in the way his government did, got the thumbs down from his main El Alto powerbase with just 53% approval (it used to be a regular 85% or 90% there).

If Evo's learned his lesson, his numbers should creep back up in the months to come in the same way they did after his aborted attempt to raise fuel prices at the end of last year (the dip in popularity is clear there). But if he hasn't we may be in for a new era of "unpopular Evo". This will be interesting to watch as even though he has the job until 2015 and his opposition is fractured to smithereens at the moment, Bolivia can hardly be called the most stable of countries institutionally.