Mauricio Funes, Politics

President Funes has the Highest Approval Ratings in the Americas

Consulta Mitofsky recently released a compilation of poll results, which found that Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes enjoys an approval rating of 84%, the highest in the Americas. Luiz Inacio Lula of Brazil enjoys an 81% approval rating, coming in a close second, followed by Michelle Bachelet of Chile with 78%. Among Central American countries, Ricardo Martinelli of Panama follows Funes with 77% and Alvaro Colom with 46%. President Obama enjoys a 54% approval rating.

In August, Consulta Mitofsky cunducted a series of polls on the Funes Administration’s first 100 days. The poll found that 82% of Salvadorans believe that the economy is worse than it was a year ago, down from 89% in May. Similarly, 56% of the population believes that the political situation is worse, down from 64% in May. Despite the increase in violence in recent months, 66% of the population believes that the security situation has worsened, down from 75% in May. The most dramatic change came in the area of health care, in which 44% of Salvadorans believe that the situation is worse compared to last year, down from 64% in May; 54% believe that health care has improved over the last year, up from 34%.

Though Funes enjoys some fairly high approval ratings, there are some weak areas. When asked if certain areas have improved or become worse, respondents believe that health care and education have significantly improved, 82% and 81% respectively. Similarly, 54% of Salvadorans believe that assistance in the rural areas has improved. When it comes to some of the more crucial social issues, however, the administration’s numbers are not as strong. Only 32% of Salvadorans believe that corruption has improved, while 63% believe that it has gotten worse in Funes’ first 100 days. Similarly, only 28% believe that job creation has improved, while 67% believe that it is worse. Only 22% of Salvadorans believe that the fight against youth gangs has improved, while 76% believe it to be worse. So while Funes enjoys a high approval rating early on, they will have some very difficult issues to take on in the months ahead.

The August polls also show that Funes enjoys a 66% approval rating among Salvadorans who identify themselves as supporters of the right-wing ARENA party. This cross-over support is especially significant in light of El Salvador’s long history of political polarization, which led to a twelve-year civil war in the 1980s.