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Costa Ricans losing faith in democracy

November 4, 2012

A new poll published Sunday by Costa Rica’s leading Spanish-language daily La Nación revealed a troubling trend for Central America’s most stable country: The number of Costa Ricans who believe the country’s democratic system is losing credibility increased significantly in recent years.

According to the poll, only 36 percent of respondents said they were “very satisfied” with Costa Rica’s political system, down from 55 percent in a similar poll taken six years ago by the firm Unimer for La Nación.

Asked if a democratic system is preferred over any other type of government, 57 percent of respondents in the new poll said yes, a dramatic decrease from 78 percent in 2006.

The number of respondents who said they would support the idea of an authoritarian government doubled in the same period, from 11 percent to 22 percent.

The poll of 1,200 Costa Ricans was conducted Oct. 3-11. The daily did not publish the margin of error.

For Costa Rica, which abolished its army 63 years ago and has depended on the popular vote to elect its government for more than a century (with brief interruptions in 1917 and 1948), a democratic system of government traditionally has been a source of national pride, particularly given the various military and authoritarian governments throughout the region in past decades.

According to the latest poll, a new tendency is emerging in the Central American country, where citizens increasingly believe that democracy cannot resolve the country’s problems – an opinion held by 40 percent of those polled in the current study. In 2006, that number was 12 percent.

The percentage of Costa Ricans who say they have lost faith in political parties increased from 29 percent in 2006 to 46 percent in 2012.

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