Latin Americans are disenchanted with politics and highly distrust their political institutions, according to the latest poll by Latinobarómetro, a leading public opinion survey directed by Latin American Initiative nonresident fellow Marta Lagos. Only 31 percent of those surveyed felt represented by their government; fewer still, 23 percent, felt represented by their country’s congress.
Political systems have been unable to represent the citizenry and have thus empowered citizens to go to the streets to demand a more functional democracy. Instead of writing letters to their congressmen or using other institutional means of participation, citizens make themselves heard through peaceful protests, social media and television appearances. Lagos explains that while the last decade was characterized by “hyper-presidents,” in which presidents were put on a pedestal and enjoyed 80 percent approval ratings, this decade is marked by the “hyper-participation” of citizens.
The annual Latinobarómetro opinion poll involves about 20,000 interviews in 18 Latin American countries representing over 600 million people. The survey is available in Spanish at http://www.latinobarometro.org/lat.jsp.