Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Honduras: (I can't get no) dissatisfaction

Orlando J. Pérez, John A. Booth, and Mitchell A. Seligson, "The Honduran 'Catharsis.'"  AmericasBarometer Insights 45 (2010).

This is the latest in the AmericasBarometer series, and again for reasons unknown I receive it as an email before it is on the internet (now I see that it is available at Americas Quarterly).  This is a follow up to an article published last August that I commented on, which noted that in 2008 Hondurans had the highest level of "triply dissastisfied" versus "triply satisfied" respondents with regard to support for democracy, support for national institutions, and evaluation of the government's economic performance.  Now they add data from survey conducted in Honduras earlier this year.  Some highlights:

59% of voting age Hondurans opposed Mel Zelaya's ouster
72% of voting age Hondurans oppose his exile
61% believe it was a coup
70% were opposed to Zelaya's proposed constituent assembly

In 2010, mean levels of "triple disatisfaction" had fallen back to 2006 levels after rising considerably in 2008.  The authors thus argue that the coup created a "catharsis" effect.  They also note, however, that this catharsis is felt almost entirely by economic elites.  Not surprisingly, elites are less dissatisfied and don't support a coup because their interests are not longer threatened.

In 2010, in contrast, with the new administration in power, elites were more supportive of the economic performance of the regime than those in lower wealth quintiles. Elites, however, expressed far more support for coups than Hondurans in lower income quintiles, which suggests that the coup proved satisfactory to the interests of wealthier Hondurans, and reinforced their view that unpopular economic policies can be “cured” by unconstitutional means.

That, in fact, is the most important lesson to be taken from the coup.  It is, of course, a very old story.


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