We used to think that the un/popularity of a government was in some way linked to the success/failure of its economic policies, and that such success/failure would influence people’s faith in democracy.

At the end of the 1980s, the disastrous economic legacy of Alan Garcia’s first government undermined its popularity to such a degree that it put the future of democracy in danger, providing the conditions for Alberto Fujimori’s palace coup of 1992.

The reverse logic does not seem to apply. The Peruvian economy is among the leaders of the Latin American growth league. Alan Garcia Mark-2 should therefore be among the region’s more popular heads of state. But at the last count, though, a mere 28% of Peruvians thought their president was doing a good job. A full 69% disapproved of the way he was running the country, according to the normally reliable Datum survey published in mid-November.

When it comes to looking at Peruvians’ faith in their democratic institutions, the poll evidence is even more depressing. The 2007 Latinobarometro, also published in mid-November, shows that faith to be at a very low ebb:

Whereas in 1996, 63% of people interviewed thought democracy is preferable to other types of government, eleven years later only 47% do.

When asked whether “in certain circumstances” authoritarian government is preferable to democracy, 13% agreed in 1996, whereas now 22% do.

To the question “how satisfied” people are with the way democracy works in Peru, Peru came second to bottom of 18 Latin American countries in 2007 (higher only than Paraguay), with less than 20% expressing satisfaction. The countries where people expressed most satisfaction were Uruguay and Venezuela (over 60%).