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Venezuela Country Risk Poll: Key Findings and Complete Results

Executive Summary | Kissinger McLarty Associates

15.12.04 | Poll respondents have a very clear vision of the economic future of the country, but feel that President Chavez is not leading them toward that vision (57/33 wrong direction/right direction). However, while expectations of the short-term economic outlook are weak, demand for government effectiveness seems to be on the rise.

More of those polled see Chavez as democratic than dictatorial (49/28 democratic/dictatorial). Slightly more than half of respondents believe Chavez is not a legitimate President (51/42 illegitimate/legitimate). A majority of Venezuelans believe that Chavez committed fraud in order to win the August 15, 2004 recall referendum (53/37 fraud/no fraud).

There is relatively mild but widespread dissatisfaction with President Chavez and his policies. By a 58% to 32% margin a majority feel that Venezuela is heading on the wrong track. Respondents were dissatisfied with President Chavez s performance, and feel that the country is missing opportunities to strengthen economically. A strong majority finds the Chavez government not credible (60/36). Only slightly better than one in three Venezuelans believe that the Chavez government is effective (38/58 effective/ineffective).

The opposition and its leaders enjoy high levels of disapproval and unfavorability. 56% of respondents have an unfavorable view of the opposition (56/38 unfavorable/favorable).  And, perhaps most tellingly, 60% of Venezuelans disapprove of the opposition and its leaders (60/38 disapproval/approval).

Key Findings

1. A majority of Venezuelans believe that Chavez is leading the country in the wrong direction (57%) and think the country is unstable (63%), making investment in the country risky (63%).

2. Very strong majorities want Venezuela to become a modern economy open to foreign investment; however Venezuelans believe that Chavez is not doing enough to obtain foreign investment. Only 15% believe that he is.

3. Almost half of Venezuelans believe that Chavez is democratic (49%), even though a majority (53%) also believe that he committed fraud to win the August 15 referendum.

HOWEVER,

4. Strong majorities have unfavorable views of both Chavez (55%) and the leaders of the opposition (56%). Social tensions remain very much unresolved.

5. Almost 40% are against the repatriation of earnings by foreign companies.

6. 44% say that the government should nationalize companies and resources to advance the revolution.

Economic Situation

Those polled felt mildly pessimistic overall about Venezuela s near term outlook. The outlook for the economy as a whole is overall neutral, although the job market is seen as relatively weak and likely to deteriorate in the short-term (61% saying that it will be somewhat harder or much harder to find a job in the next 6  12 months). Overall, respondents felt their own job security was better than the prospects for acquiring one. In other words, generally speaking those polled feel lucky to have a job.

However, when asked whether they were set to spend more  from now on there was a strikingly different response: a solid majority said they were going to spend much more (30%) or somewhat more (27%) than in the past. It could be argued that although expectations for the economy are low, demands for action to change the weak economic outlook are going to rise.

Economic Priorities

Poll respondents are very engaged internationally. There is overwhelming desire to make Venezuela as open to foreign business as possible, and a consistent repudiation of Cuba as a model for development.

Venezuelans overwhelmingly want to be integrated into the world economy. 83% of respondents felt that the government should do more to attract foreign investment; even higher percentages of participants felt that Venezuela should pay all its foreign debts, and that Venezuela should be more open to foreign investment. The high degree of comfort with foreign companies extends beyond the abstract: those polled were essentially indifferent whether they were employed by a local or foreign firm. Likewise a solid majority felt foreign companies should be allowed to repatriate profits as they saw fit.

There is therefore solid support for  doing the right things to attract foreign investment.

At the same time, there is a high degree of support (44% in favor versus 45% opposed) for nationalization of key industries. A solid majority (56%) felt the oil revenues of  PDVSA, the national oil company, should be government controlled. 

Political Stability

Despite the strong disapproval of Chavez s policies, most respondents (49%) feel that Venezuela remains a democracy under Chavez, even though a slight majority (53%) feels that Chavez won the referendum thanks to electoral fraud (53/37 fraud/fair). Comparatively few (27%) think that there will be a coup in Venezuela in the next year.

However, although the referendum may have solved the political crisis, it has not solved the social crisis: Almost as many feel that Venezuela is heading toward civil war (36%) as those who felt the system works (37%). There is similarly little consensus as to whether Chavez will voluntarily step down at the end of his term. And a strong majority feel that Chavez does not represent the majority will of the public. No wonder, then, that a majority of those polled felt that Venezuela was somewhat or very unstable (63%), or that Venezuela currently was a risky place to invest by a two to one margin (63/33 risky/safe).

COMPLETE RESULTS  SCRIPT OUTPUT

1. In general, do you think that things in Venezuela are headed in the right direction of do you think that things in Venezuela are headed in the wrong direction?

Right direction

32%

Wrong direction 
58
Not sure 
10

2. How would you rate President Chavez s job as President?

Excellent

11%
Good

18%

Fair
35

Poor
34
Not sure
2

3. Is your overall opinion of President Chavez very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable or very unfavorable or you are not familiar enough to have an opinion?

Very favorable
15%

Somewhat favorable
23
Somewhat unfavorable  
23
Very unfavorable
32
Not familiar 
4
Not sure 
4

4. Some people say that President Chavez committed fraud in order the win the recent  referendum revocatorio. Others say that President Chavez won the referendum revocatorio fairly. Which one of these two points of view is closest to your own?

Chavez committed fraud
53%
Chavez won fairly  
37
Not sure 
11

5. In general, do you think that President Chavez is leading the country in the right direction, or do you think that he is leading the country in the wrong direction?

Right direction 
33%
Wrong direction 
57
Not sure
10

6. In general, do you think the economic situation of Venezuela is excellent, good, fair, or poor?

Excellent
5%
Good
12
Fair
45
Poor

38
Not sure

1

7. In general, do you think that the situation in Venezuela today is very stable, somewhat stable, somewhat unstable, or not very stable?

Very stable
6%
Somewhat stable 

29
Somewhat unstable 

31

Not very stable 
32

Not sure
2

8. Over the next 6 to 12 months, do you think the economic situation of Venezuela will be much better, somewhat better, somewhat worse, or much worse?

Much better 

11%

Somewhat better
34

Somewhat worse
31
Much worse 
18
Not sure 
6

9. From now on, do you plan to spend much more, somewhat more, somewhat less, or much less than you spend now?

Spend much more 
30%

Somewhat more 
27
Somewhat less 
28
Much less
9
Not sure 
6

10. Some people say they prefer to consume Venezuelan products better than imported products. Others say that they prefer to consume imported products better than Venezuelan products. Which point of view is closest to your own?

Consume Venezuelan products

52%

Consume imported products 
14

No difference 

33
Not sure
2

11. Over the next 6 to 12 months, how worried are you about being able to keep your job  very worried, somewhat worried, not very worried, or not worried at all?

Very worried

28%

Somewhat worried 
30

Not very worried 
16
Not at all worried 
19
Not sure
7

12. How confident are you that if you lose your job now you would be able to find another one over the next 6 months  very confident, somewhat confident, not very confident, not at all confident?

Very confident
14%

Somewhat confident 
17
Not very confident 
24
Not at all confident 
37
Not sure 
8

13. In general, what do you think of international companies that want to invest in Venezuela, do you have a very favorable view, a somewhat favorable view, a somewhat unfavorable view or a very unfavorable view of international companies that want to invest in Venezuela?

Very favorable  
57%
Somewhat favorable
30
Somewhat unfavorable 
7
Very unfavorable
5
Not sure

2

14. Do you think it is better for Venezuela if international companies invest more or invest less in Venezuela?

Invest more
90%
Invest less
6
Not sure

4

15. In general, do you think Venezuela and the Venezuelan government should do more to attract foreign investment, or is it already doing enough?

Should do more
83%
Doing enough
15
Not sure

2

16. As you may know, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru are currently negotiating a Free Trade Agreement with the US and Bolivia is hoping to join soon afterwards. Some people say that Venezuela is losing an opportunity to maintain its economic strength relative to its Andean neighbors. Others say that Venezuela does not need free trade agreements to keep up with its neighbors. Which one of these two points of view is closest to your own?

Venezuela losing an opportunity to maintain its economic strength 
63%
Venezuela does not need free trade agreements to keep up w/neighbors 
21
Not sure

16

17. Some people say that in Venezuela the property rights of international companies should be respected; others say that in Venezuela the property rights of international companies should not be respected. Which one of these two points of view is closest to your own?

Should be respected
95%
Should not be respected 
3
Not sure

2

18. Some people say that Venezuela should not pay its international debts and that it should use the money to invest in the country. Others say that Venezuela should pay all its international debts in order to continue to attract international investors. Which one of these two points of view is closest to your own?

Should not pay international debts
6%
Should pay all international debts
92
Not sure 

2

19. Some people say that the Venezuelan economy should be more open to international investors; others say that the Venezuelan economy should be less open to international investors. Which one of these two points of view is closest to your own?

More open to international investors
92%
Less open to international investors
5
Not sure

3

20. In your opinion, do you think that investing in Venezuela today is very risky, somewhat risky, somewhat safe, or very safe?

Very risky
20%
Somewhat risky
43
Somewhat safe

21
Very safe 

12

Not sure
4

21. Some people say that international companies that invest in Venezuela should be allowed to take their profits back to their own country; others say that international companies that invest in Venezuela should not be allowed to take their profits back to their own country? Which one of these two points of view is closest to your own?

Should be allowed to take profits to their own country 

47%
Should not be allowed to take profits to their own country

39

Not sure
14

22. Some people say that today Venezuela is a democracy. Others say that today Venezuela is a dictatorship. Which one of these two points of view is closest to your own?

Democracy

49%
Dictatorship

28

Neither 
19

Not sure
4

23. Some people say that Venezuela should be more like Castro s Cuba. Others say that Venezuela should not be like Castro s Cuba. Which one of these two points of view?

Should be like Cuba

4%

Should not be like Cuba 
92

Not sure 
4

24-30. I am going to read to you a list of entities. For each, please tell me if your overall opinion is very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable or very unfavorable, or you are not familiar enough to form an opinion?

Table 1. Favorable/Unfavorable

 

Favorable

Unfavorable

Not sure

Overall

Very

Somewhat

Overall

Very

Somewhat

American companies

85

51

34

11

3

8

3

Spanish companies

89

45

44

5

1

5

7

the United States

81

49

32

16

5

11

3

Spain

90

48

41

4

1

3

6

Cuba

25

13

12

67

54

12

8

Current gov t of US led by Bush

57

25

32

35

15

20

9

Current gov t of Spain led by Zapatero

73

33

40

13

5

8

15

31. If you could choose between working for a Venezuelan company or working for an international company, which one would you prefer?

 

Prefer Venezuelan company
43%
Prefer international company
48
Neither
2
Not sure
7

32. Some people say that oil revenue and PDVSA s income should be considered a national resource that should be used by the government. Others say that oil revenue and PDVSA should be treated like any other company and be as independent as possible. Which one of these two points of view is closest to your own? 

Considered a national resource and used by the government  
56%
Treated like any other company and remain independent
35
Not sure
9

33. Some people say that the government should nationalize companies and resources to advance the revolution. Others say that the government should not get involved in business. Which one of these two points of view is closest to your own?

Nationalize companies and resources
44%
Do not get involved in business 
45
Not sure 
11

34. Do you have a very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable or very unfavorable view of the leaders of the opposition?

Very favorable
9%
Somewhat favorable
29
Somewhat unfavorable 
21
Very unfavorable
35
Not sure

6

35. Do you strongly approve, somewhat approve, somewhat disapprove, or strongly disprove the way that the leaders of the opposition are doing their job as opposition leaders?

Strongly approve
8%
Somewhat approve
28
Somewhat disapprove

25
Strongly disapprove 

35

Not sure 
5

36. Some people say that the situation in Venezuela is headed towards civil war. Others that the situation in Venezuela is normal and that the political process will work well. Which one of these two points of view is closest to your own?

Headed toward civil war

36%
Situation is normal and process works well 

37

Not sure
27

37. Over the next 6 to 12 months, what do you think will happen to employment in Venezuela, do you think that it will become much easier to find work, somewhat easier, somewhat harder, or much harder to find work?

 

Much easier
8%
Somewhat easier

27
Somewhat harder

30

Much harder
32

Not sure
4

38. In general, do you think that the government of Venezuela is very credible, somewhat credible, not very credible or not at all credible?

Very credible

18%

Somewhat credible
20

Not very credible
26
Not at all credible
34
Not sure
3

39. In general, do you think that the government of Venezuela is very effective solving the country s problems, somewhat effective, somewhat ineffective, or very ineffective?

Very effective
16%

Somewhat effective
22
Somewhat ineffective
22
Very ineffective
36
Not sure
3

40. In your opinion, do you think that the government of Venezuela is legitimate and it acts in a legitimate way, or do you think that it is not legitimate and it does not act in a legitimate way? Which one of these two points of view is closest to your own?

Government is legitimate
42%
Government is not legitimate
51
Not sure
7

41. Over the next 6 to 12 months how likely is it in your opinion that there will be a military coup in Venezuela, very likely, somewhat likely, somewhat unlikely, or very unlikely?

Very likely
6%
Somewhat likely
21
Somewhat unlikely
24
Very unlikely
43
Not sure

7

42. Some people say that President Chavez does not represent the interest of the majority of Venezuelans. Others say that President Chavez does represent the interests of the majority of Venezuelans. Which one of these two points of view is closest to your own?

Represents majority interests
37%
Does not represent majority interests 
57
Not sure 

7

43. Some people say that President Chavez will never step down from power voluntarily, even if he loses the next election. Do you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree or strongly disagree with this point of view?

Strongly agree
39%
Somewhat agree
22
Somewhat disagree

11
Strongly disagree

23

Not sure
5

METHODOLOGY

Zogby International conducted 403 face-to-face interviews of adults, 18 and older, in Venezuela. Respondents were chosen at random from a representative random sample. Nineteen (19) interviewers and six (6) supervisors conducted the interviews from November 23 to November 26, 2004. The margin of error is 5%.  Questionnaires and analysis by KMA.



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