Friday, August 20, 2010

Concern about coups

Flacso (the Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencia Sociales) has just released a region-wide poll, "Gobernabilidad y convivencia democrática an América Latina."  It is not too uplifting.  For example, 43 percent do not feel safe in their community.

There is also the question of whether respondents believe a coup will occur in the next 12 months.  Here are the percentages of people responding "likely" or "very likely."

Region: 22%

Paraguay: 40%
Ecuador: 39%
Mexico: 34%
Venezuela: 32%
Honduras: 31%
Guatemala: 30%
Bolivia: 26%
Nicaragua: 25%
Argentina: 24%
Colombia: 21%
El Salvador: 16%
Brazil: 15%
DR: 15%
Peru: 14%
Uruguay: 13%
Chile: 7%

Mexico is surprisingly high.  Despite concerns about how the military would act once the PRI was out of power, I have not heard rumblings about a coup, and despite drug-related violence the political system is holding together.

Overall, these numbers are just too high, and they cross ideological lines.  People do not necessary want a coup (though only 49% believe coups should never occur) but their belief in the resilience of democracy has shallow roots.


boz 9:40 AM  

Absolutely. This poll shows that many people do a poor job with expectations. For most countries, coups over any given 12 month period are relatively unlikely events. Nearly all of the people answering "likely" will not see a coup in their country in the coming year.

I wonder if you were to ask people if it's likely their country will be hit by a massive earthquake or if they will win the lottery in the next 12 months how they would answer. My guess is those numbers would be too high as well.

So yes, part of this is a concern for the region's democracy. But part can also be chalked up to people just being bad at estimating the likelihood of events.

Tambopaxi 12:01 PM  

I agree with Boz.

I have to wonder what motivates people to respond in the affirmative regarding coups. Perhaps respondents think an answer asi will get the attention of the pollsters or readers, but the reality? Much different.

Here in Ecuador, Correa's figures have slipped and this week, a recall initiative was launched (no way in hell it will succeed), but the chances of the military posing a problem are about zip. It may be that respondents are indulging in wishful thinking (as in, they'd love to SEE Correa thrown out), but the general populace support him and so, no, it just ain't gonna happen here...

Greg Weeks 12:04 PM  

If that logic held, then all countries would have essentially the same response. But there is significant variation. I doubt that means that Chileans are somehow better at predicting their future than Mexicans or Paraguayans.

boz 12:55 PM  

The variation does matter. But I also think people are misjudging the likelihood of the event occurring.

Of course, there is a question of how the average person polled defines "likely" and "coup." Is "likely" over 50% or over 20% or "more than zero" in their minds. Is a "coup" strictly old style military coup, or would citizens in some countries count a president overthrowing a judicial system or a drug cartel assassinating a president as a coup.

I demand Flacso run more polls and focus groups to find out the answers to these questions.

Justin Delacour 6:07 PM  

Overall, these numbers are just too high, and they cross ideological lines. People do not necessary want a coup (though only 49% believe coups should never occur) but their belief in the resilience of democracy has shallow roots.

I think the primary problem is that, in some countries, the lack of civility in public discourse and the perceived absence of a loyal opposition leads many people to fear and/or anticipate that there could be a breakdown in the constitutional order.

It doesn't help that the Obama Administration displayed considerable indifference to the most recent coup. I suspect that, if the regional superpower had exhibited a bit more resolve in the face of the Honduran coup, the level of popular anticipation of more such coups would be lower today.

leftside 12:42 AM  

These are higher numbers than we've seen previously, correct (anyone have the numbers)? So, while both Boz and Weeks have a point, they don't address why the numbers are higher right now.

The coup in Honduras was a big wake call down south that the only power who can stop coups (Obama) showed that he is unwilling to the rescue for democracy. Sorry to hammer the point, but I'm surprised it is not mentioned.

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP