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8/4/08

Presidential Approvals: who's hot, who's not?

Here we go with an update on the local leaders' approval ratings sweepstakes. All the approval ratings that follow come from reputable international agencies (MORI, GALLUP, APOYO etc) and are all from July and August, except for that of Mexico's Calderon that dates from 22nd June. The 10 leaders are the main SA states plus Mexico. Paraguay isn't included, because in 11 days time they're changing the top dude and polls hardly count right now.

The write-ups are in reverse order, so number 1 on the list has the dubious honour of being the most hated, and number 10 the most loved. On with the show!

1) Klishtina Fernandesh de Kirchner 19.9%
Another reason for Argentine pride! A race that cannot abide being average in anything will much prefer to at the sharp end of the scale, and Klishtina does 'em proud with this impressive showing. 19.9% according to the latest poll, but I must make mention of a poll published today by a famously pro-Kirchner local polling firm that has her at 53%. That's about as likely as Chávez apologizing to Dubya before he leaves office.

2) Alan Twobreakfasts Garcia, 26%
Shome mishtake shurely ossifer?!?!? Isn't this the head of the 'growth miracle' country? The shining example of how South America should behave? It's a pity that Peru's growth riches are not shared with Peruvians...well....not such a pity if you are Grupo Mexico, Telefonica de España, BHP, Banco Bilbao, Xstrata, Mitsubishi, Newmont, Freeport McMoRan etc etc...but you know what I mean, yeah? ¡Viva investment grade! Viva viva viva.

3) Michelle Bachelet, 40%
Poor old Michelle just can't seem to catch a break on her ratings affected by the energy crisis (now passed) and the ongoing inflation surge. On he other hand she's been scoring regularly at the same level for the last few months, so it could be worse. Now the run-up to the next edition of "vote a President" has started in Chile, the pressure will be off her somewhat.

4=) Rafael Studmuffin Correa, 54%
The muffin is doing ok. As mentioned recently, anything above the half way line in Ecuador with 18 months of government under your belt is a pretty remarkable achievement. The big test comes with the straight-up-straight-down-yes-no-referendum vote on September 28th (it looks like they've finally settled on a date after chopping and changing around for a while).

4=) Hugo Chávez, 54%
Though you'd never believe it by reading what you read, no? According the the perma-Chavez-haters, people are poorer, less educated, in worse health, in worse housing, salaries are dropping and unemployment is rising. Totally illogical that he scores over 50%, no?

6) Lula da Silva, 58%
Lula can do little wrong, despite a rising inflation problem and the usual stench of corruption from all sides of the political sphere (bar Lula himself, I hasten to add). He seems to have moved effortlessly from president to statesman, and is the most admired Prez outside of Brazil in Pan-regional polls, too.

7=) Tabaré Vasquez, 59%
Over three years into his mandate, and Tabaré's numbers are pretty darned good. And although Uruguay may be small, its population of 3.4m is very politically aware and so its topdog politicos are under constant scrutiny. He's on course to be remembered as one of the country's more successful presidents.

7=) Evo Morales, 59%
This number came out just yesterday (and before you ask, it was a leading international polling firm that does a widely respected monthly poll). I think he's good for 60%+ in the referendum coming up Sunday. Evo now scores over double the rating of Alan Garcia in his country. Therefore, here's a request that goes out to the newswire journalists. In future copy, stop calling him a 'populist' leader and start calling him a 'popular' leader.

9) Felipe Calderón, 60%
Since he won that wafer-thin election against the left-wing Lopez-Obrador, Calderón has been doing a quiet but efficient job. His big political problem right now is the spiralling drug gang warfare, but his handling of the economy has been hands-on and smart. A quiet achiever, and applause from here (so far).

10) Alvaro Uribe, 82%
Colombians love Alvaro. Period. Getting a major upper hand on the FARC certainly helps, but there's something about the guy that goes much further in the hearts and minds of his people, and being a mere gringo I can only guess at what it is. Colombian friends say it comes from a number of factors, including his teacher-like style, his speech-making abilities, his extremely high work rate and also his total control-freak nature. I honestly don't get it myself, but who am I to judge against such impressive popularity figures. By the way, that 82% is the number of people who want him to change the constitution at his own whim to allow him to run again for office. His main problem right now is the inflation level, which is spiralling nastily.