Public opinion at Sánchez Cerén two year mark

Salvador Sánchez Cerén completed his second year as El Salvador's president this week.    Recent public opinion polls show that slightly more Salvadorans currently approve of his performance than disapprove, but his approval ratings are well below the ratings of his two predecessors, Mauricio Funes and Tony Saca, at similar points in their administrations.

According to a La Prensa Grafica poll in May 2016, 48% of Salvadorans approve of the job Sánchez Cerén is doing while 44% disapprove.   That is a marked reversal from February when only 36% approved and 55% disapproved.  In February, murders in the country had skyrocketed to their highest levels, prompting the government to introduce "exceptional measures" to combat crime including greater militarization of public security efforts and crack downs on gang leaders in the prisons.  Salvadorans give Sánchez Cerén an average rating of 5.6 on a scale of 1 to 10 on his job performance in the LPG survey.

 In his report on the second anniversary of his administration, the president pointed to the improving poll numbers as support for the public security measures that his government is taking.

The LPG poll also asked citizens about their overall view of the state of the country at the end of the president's second term.  As has been true for more than a decade, Salvadorans are pessimistic about their country.    76.8% currently view the country's general situation as bad or very bad, a slight improvement from February 2016 when the total reached 82.9%.    And it is clear that crime and violence are the overall factor in this rating with 69.8% of Salvadorans viewing it as the principal problem affecting the country, compared to only 12.3% focused on the economy.

Source: LPG Datos

Another recent public opinion poll was discussed by InsightCrime which looked at polling by El Diario de Hoy.  In a slight contrast to the president's improving ratings since his exceptional measures to combat crime were introduced, the EDH poll shows skepticisim about the effectiveness of those measures:

When asked "Do you believe the current extraordinary measures are producing good results?" the responses were
No -- 58%
Yes -- 39%
A similar percentage doubted the measures would produce good results in the future.

In the EDH poll, 78% disapproved of the truce among the gangs and the government entered during the Mauricio Funes administration and which Sánchez Cerén has rejected. The country's attorney general is now prosecuting former officials involved with the truce.

The EDH poll also got answers to this question "Which of the following challenges facing the country should be combated as a national priority?"
Crime and violence:  46.3%
Corruption  34.9%
Unemployment  12.8%
Latin America blogger Boz commented on those results:
Second, the number of voters listing corruption as the country's top problem is incredibly high. One in three people list corruption as their top concern, in spite of the country being the world's most violent and one of the poorest in the hemisphere. That shows a real disillusionment with the country's political system. It also suggests perhaps many citizens see the bigger picture and recognize that corruption within government institutions is why the country has as many security and economic problems as it does.
I would point out, however, that the poll results appeared in EDH, which along with La Prensa has been engaged in an ongoing campaign to attack the current government for corruption (something it never did when right wing ARENA was in power).   In addition, citizen perceptions of corruption are influenced by the fact that the attorney general's office and the public integrity office of the Supreme Judicial Court are publicly pursuing corruption cases in away they never did before, and so there is more news of corruption.   Finally, Salvadorans hated the truce and view it as a "corrupt bargain" which may also influence the poll numbers.

Without a doubt, whether Salvador Sánchez Cerén's presidency is ultimately viewed as a success or a failure will depend almost entirely on his impact on crime and violence.   The public supports harsh security measures and using the military to combat the gangs, and that is what the president is giving them.   The public disdained the truce, and Sánchez Cerén says his government will never negotiate with the gangs.   Only time will tell.



Karlha said…
la prensa grafica and el diario de hoy are biased newspapers that dont pay taxes since
they started business in El Salvador.
I was in El salvador when paco flores, calderon sol, and cristiani governed. i never heard a bad word or any polls done against the ARENA government, the right wing.
all i can say is that crime was not this bad as it is now because obviously the ARENA government and the media along with the gangs were united so all crime kept under the table...meanwhile tons of thousands were coming to USA and back then none of this was
heard in the international strange eh? well it turns out that international
media and usa government back in the 90's and early 2000 were right wing just like the
government of el salvador. NOW the government of el salvador is leftist everyone is
barking about crime etc. luckily the government of usa is democrat so it is not minding their business in el salvador...i dont know about the next elections of usa if trump wins is not gonna be any good for el salvador...unless trump doesnt get his nose in central america.