Colombian pessimism at 9-year high: Gallup poll

Colombians’ opinion about the general state of the country is at its lowest ebb in nine years, as 54% of the population think it has gone from bad to worse, according to a Gallup poll carried out at the end of April, local media reported Friday.

This result is considered to be primarily caused by the heavy rains and corruption scandals, with the manager of Gallup Colombia, Jorge Londoño de la Cuesta, saying that “The result of two rainy seasons in close succession and the uncovering of corruption cases stand out as causes for the national pessimism.”.

Some 70% of Colombians think corruption is getting worse, the highest figure since April 2008, with only 19% think that the level of corruption is decreasing.

These sentiments are no doubt fuelled by the uncovering of recent scandals involving the awarding of fraudulent contracts to the Nule Group for public works contracts in Bogota and the embezzlement of public funds through health insurance companies.

A new statute was passed Wednesday in a bid to halt corruption in the form of fraudulent contracts, although the Supreme Court is due to begin an investigation imminently into corruption into this form on a national scale.

Seemingly aware of the irony, Londoño noted how the removal of corruption necessarily places it at the forefront of public perception since “even though to correct the problem is right, the uncovering [of it] generates despair in public opinion.”

Londoño added that “Work against corruption does not produce results in the short term, but maybe in the medium term when the situation changes and the results can be seen … the mood of Colombians will go up again.”

In relation to the economic outlook, only 32% of respondents think the economy is doing well while 48% think it is worsening. This is despite the increase in projected growth figures of Colombia’s GDP for this year. Purchasing power was the country’s biggest problem for 32% of respondents.

In terms of the president’s approval rating, 66% of those polled support him, down from 72% last February.  50% of respondents approve of the way Santos is handling the fight against the guerrillas although 45% disapprove of the way he is managing the economy, especially in terms of the cost of living and unemployment. Interior and Justice Minister German Vargas Lleras is the most popular minister with a 67% approval rating.

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