Alfredo Keller thinks that President Chávez' popularity is feeble|
Intention to vote President Hugo Chávez drops 45 percent
According to the pollster, popularity numbers shrunk by 9 percent within one quarter, with 30 percent for political support. "Over a third backs the government for strictly practical reasons"
|A charismatic figure and growing revenues have enabled the president to sell illusions, Keller says (Photo: Nicola Rocco)|
Alfredo Keller, the guru of Keller & Associates, a widely
recognized barometer of public opinion, welcomes us with a
query: "I wonder why this survey has made such a fuss."
Q: Because, according to that survey, Chávez popularity
is going down again. This had not happened since 2003.
A: That is true. There is a trend.
Q: Chávez has been down and then up again. This
swing may be not necessarily a final trend.
A: There are reasons to explain such expected fall. We asked
people about government action to solve problems. While an
abstract question, it shows ups and downs. A difference is
made between "the generic view about the government solving
problems (illusion) and averaged solution of problems, including
unemployment, crime, cost of living and poverty."
Q: People answered that the government is making a good
job to solve problems, but then stated that nothing has been
made to solve them. Is not that a contradiction?
A: This is because Chávez has sold plenty of illusions
and promises for a better way of living and eradication of
Q: In any case, "illusion" is very high, 74 points.
A: No doubt. He is a great illusionist, a tremendous seller
of illusions. But there is a tear-and-wear trend, as the aid
policy exacerbated by Chávez raises high expectation.
Chávez popularity is based on illusion instead of facts.
This shows misleading popularity built upon illusion.
Q: In the face of money availability, one may think
that, rather than vanishing, illusion should stay.
A: Chávez' egalitarian, claiming wording is based both
on his charisma and domestic wealth. This helps to keep an
expectation similar to the lottery. "Any time it will be my
turn." All of this rests on the belief about the country being
extremely wealthy. Ninety-two percent thinks that Venezuela
is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, and the government
is called to apportion such wealth.
Q: In any case, the survey published by you shows that
president's popularity is still very high -61 percent.
A: Yes. But popularity has different faces. You may think
that the president is nice and appealing. Now, is that popularity?
Q: In 2003, when the recall referendum should have been
conducted, there was a 70/30 ratio favoring the opposition.
However, Chávez postponed the consultation and the terms
A: Based on illusion and redistribution.
Q: How can you ensure that this will not happen again
A: I cannot ensure anything. But I can anticipate that support
to Chávez grew during the subsequent creation of missions
(social welfare programs), and this had a big impact.
Q: One of them vowed scholarships for 400,000 students.
A: It was easy to imagine that everybody was going to receive
anything. But today, missions are a tangible reality. Out
of 400,000 "scholars," only 72 were actual recipients. Further,
missions stopped causing wonder, because they turned into
routine. If he (President Chávez) sparked the desire
of seven or eight million people, he will be not able ultimately
to satisfy all of them.
Q: Who is to be favored by such frustration?
A: Chávez is not the problem, but the opposition.
The opposition has failed to provide an alternative to cash
in on potential frustration. Then, people have two choices.
Either they stop playing, as many do, or, since there is no
alternative, continue tied to Chávez. Over a third backs
Chávez for strictly practical reasons. Therefore, Chávez
support does not reach 30 percent in political terms.
Q: Concerning the score of 45 percent for Chávez
based on intention to vote, how are potential opposition candidates
doing? Who is closer?
Q: Obviously, Chávez is in the first place.
A: Absolutely. Opposition diversity is the problem.
A: Indeed. One single leader is the government strength and
weakness. While decision making can be sound and the only
reference, single leadership undermines it, as the boss' blessing
is needed. Therefore, he is most responsible for ineffectiveness.
Local governors have noted it, because they cannot take any
step without Chávez prior consent. This makes government
very vulnerable. As a result, people go to Miraflores presidential
palace, instead of ministries, to voice frustration.
Q: If elections were today, Chávez would win them.
A: Yes. But this will be not the case in one and a half year
term. Until the first quarter of this current year, I thought
that Chávez would win in 2006. Now, I am not that sure.
Based on the current trend, in the mid of next year there
will be a wide range of opportunities for emerging, competitive
leaders. Provided that opposition has learned from mistakes,
it is possible that there will be, rather than one single
candidate, the most legitimate possible procedure for opposition
to offer a strong, sound, unified initiative including a project
and an illusion.
Q: Again, Chávez turned out contrary to the expectations
within one year.
A: It cost him over USD five billion. Now he has some more,
but he lacks ability to surprise.
Translated by Conchita