Support for democracy is on the slide in the Americas, with barely more than half of citizens endorsing democratic governance for the second survey in a row, according to the 2018/19 AmericasBarometer report. Some twenty states across North and South America, including the Caribbean, were surveyed in this latest round of the AmericasBarometer, which is conducted every two years by LAPOP, a survey research lab at Vanderbilt University.
- Between 2004 and 2014, the percentage of support clustered consistently in the high 60s. In 2017 it dropped eight points to 58 percent, and in 2019 it stands at just above 57 percent.
- Public satisfaction with democracy’s effectiveness also remains low after a hard 13-point fall in 2017. In the 2019 survey, just over 39 percent of the public reported satisfaction with how the democratic system is working in their country – the lowest average recorded to date since polling began in 2004.
- Also concerning is that nearly a quarter of residents express support for executive coups—the shutdown of the legislature by the chief executive. This figure has steadily risen by nearly 10 points over the past 6 years.
“The newest data show troubling signs that democracy is at risk of further backsliding in the Americas,” said Elizabeth Zechmeister, Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Political Science and director of LAPOP. “When citizen support for democracy is weak, it becomes difficult for nations to sustain free and fair political systems and leaves them vulnerable to authoritarian rule.”
“Latin Americans are looking to presidents to solve pressing issues like poverty, food insecurity and crime,” noted Noam Lupu, associate professor of political science and associate director of LAPOP. “And they are increasingly willing to forego democratic institutions like checks and balances to get things done.”