Late Venezuelan socialist President Hugo Chavez, who died in office on March 5, 2013, is the most popular head of state in the country’s history, according to a new poll conducted by the independent think tank Hinterlaces.
Venezuela Analysis reported on February 27 that the poll shows 79% of those consulted thought Chavez was the country’s most well-liked president, while the former two-term president for Democratic Action, Carlos Andres Perez, trailed behind in a distant second place with 13%.
Chavez was first elected in 1998 on a platform of redistributing wealth and power to the nation’s poor majority. This election kick-started a popular process known as the Bolivarian Revolution.
During Chavez’s almost 15 years in office, the process created a new democratic constitution, grassroots participatory bodies such as the communal councils and communes, dramatically increased social spending and lowered poverty rates, and renationalised key sectors of the economy.
Venezuela Analysis said the poll highlights the high regard in which Chavez continues to be held, noting: “In fact, the former paratrooper and leader of the Bolivarian Revolution came out as the clear winner in all categories included in the poll, and was also identified as Venezuela’s most democratic (51%) and most efficient president (57%).
“In addition, 61% of respondents believed that Chavez was the president who had been ‘most concerned’ with the plight of the country’s poor, while 83% of respondents thought that he was the president who showed ‘the most leadership’ nationally.”
Meanwhile, Venezuela Analysis said both Chavez’s successor, Nicolas Maduro, and the right-wing opposition coalition, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), continue to suffer low popularity.
In a January poll by Hinterlaces, 35% said the opposition-held National Assembly had performed “normally to poorly” in resolving the country's economic problems since the MUD won legislative elections in December 2015. A further 29% said it had performed “poor to very poorly”.
A huge 77% of respondents also opposed the National Assembly’s latest attempt to dismiss Maduro via declaring his “abandonment of post” in what many observers label an unconstitutional attempt to impeach the president.
Venezuela Analysis said 53% thought the government had “grown stronger” as a result of the actions of the opposition-controlled legislature over the past year.