Friday, April 30, 2010

Piñera's honeymoon coming to an end

It seems Piñera's honeymoon is ending. Yesterday the polling company Adimark released it's monthly government approval poll, showing a small two point decline in Piñera's approval rating. Of course, this decrease is within the 3 point margin of error, but Piñera's rate of disapproval has shot up 13 points since last month, reaching 31 percent.

One odd result from last month's poll was that the overall government received a much higher approval rating than Piñera personally, 60 percent vs. 52 percent respectively. This result was in part attributed to public perceptions regarding his, at the time, unresolved conflict of interest due to the delayed sale of his LanChile shares. Well now, however, the approval rating for the government as a whole has dropped 9 points to 51 percent, more or less matching Piñera's own rating.

But what accounts for the precipitous drop? As can be seen below, much of it is explained by public perception of the government's handling of the earthquake. The left side shows approval to the government's help towards earthquake victims and the right shows approval of the reconstruction effort.

[Independently of your political orientation, do you approve or disapprove of the way Sebastian Piñera and his government are handing the following problems related to the earthquake?]
An interesting thing has also happened during the last month regarding the income demographics of his support: it has fallen among the wealthiest and registered a small increase among the poorest (though the latter is within the margin of error).

Now, all in all these results are still obviously quite good, reflecting the fact that so far Piñera has actually done a pretty decent job all things considered, contrary to the left's fears. Obviously, experiencing one of the largest earthquakes on record might change your political agenda slightly and prompt some to govern more pragmatically. But nevertheless, Piñera the consummate businessman deserves some credit. Who would've expected the business presidency to talk about increasing mining royalties, raise corporate taxes and raid the military's trust fund, even if it's to pay for the reconstruction?

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