President Ollanta Humala’s dwindling support has made him the least popular leader in Latin America, even behind his counterparts in Venezuela and Argentina, according to polls compiled by the Mexican daily El Economista and published in Peruvian daily El Comercio.
Humala’s latest approval rating, at 22%, according to the latest poll by Ipsos-El Comercio, has been impacted by a slowing economy, and reports of corruption within his administration. But in contrast to many of his neighbors, the challenges and scandals he faces seem much smaller.
In Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro is dealing with a growing political crisis, with the world’s highest inflation rate, soaring crime and an increased crackdown on political opponents. His approval rating sits at 23%, one percentage point higher than Humala.
In Brazil, President Dilma Rousseff is facing economic recession, a water crisis in Sao Paulo, South America’s biggest city, and a major corruption scandal in the state-run oil company that threatens to engulf a number of her political allies. However, her approval rating is also at 23%.
In Argentina, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has been mired in a political scandal since the sudden death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman in January, days after he accused the President of being involved in 2013 in the cover-up of an investigation into the country’s worst ever terrorist attack, which occurred in 1994 and killed 84 people at the Buenos Aires headquarters of the Israeli-Argentine savings and loans organization. While it is still unclear if Nisman committed suicide or was killed, most Argentines believe he was murdered and suspect the government was behind it. Kirchner, who has denied being involved in Nisman’s death and also denies his allegations of a cover-up, has 35% support.
The most popular president in Latin America is currently Bolivia’s Evo Morales, with 76% support, followed by Uruguay’s Jose Mujica at 62% and Ecuador’s Rafael Correa at 60%. Mujica’s term ended this past weekend. His successor, Tabaré Vasquez, has 61% support.
While Humala’s poor showing could be a surprise to many observers, it actually isn’t all that bad compared to his predecessors. Alan Garcia, who governed from 2006 to 2011, consistently had an approval rating at around 20%, as corruption allegations overshadowed his running of a period with robust economic growth. Alejandro Toledo, who ruled from 2001 to 2006, saw his approval rating dip to single digits.
The lack of support for Peruvian presidents could be the result of a weak party structure, which political scientists have said is a major challenge to Peru’s democracy and governance.