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Costa Rica Becoming Less Keen on Democracy

While Latin America’s overall support for democracy is rising, Costa Ricans have lost some of the faith that last year made them the region’s biggest believers, according to the 2008 Latinobarómetro survey.

The percentage of Ticos who agreed with the statement “Democracy is preferable to any other type of government” dropped from 83 in 2007 to 67 this year, according to the survey, released last week in Santiago, Chile.

In terms of democratic fervor, Costa Rica now trails Venezuela (82 percent), Uruguay (79), Dominican Republic (73) and Bolivia (68).

Pushing the Latin American average up from 54 to just over 57 percent, prodemocracy sentiment made enormous strides in Paraguay, (from 33 to 53 percent), Venezuela (67 to 82 percent) and Colombia (47 to 62 percent). The percentage of people praising democracy fell in six countries besides Costa Rica, with Mexico plunging to 43 percent.

The number of Costa Ricans who agreed with the statement “In certain circumstances an authoritarian government can be preferable to a democratic one” rose 9 points, from 5 percent in 2007 to 14 percent this year. That was the largest increase on that question of all the countries in Latin America. Most of those nations saw that figure drop.

However, 42 percent of Costa Ricans said their country’s democracy works the best in the region, the third-highest among the 18 nations survey. Chile topped that list, with 44 percent of its citizens boasting superiority.

Feeling most inferior democratically were Peruvians, 40 percent of whom said their nation’s democratic system was the worst in the region.

–Alex Leff



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