San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

New Poll Shows Arias Losing Public Favor

President Oscar Arias is facing the lowest public opinion in his career, as a growing number of Costa Ricans perceive his government to be driving down the economy, playing to special interests and lacking the will to fix problems it can easily solve, a recent Unimer poll says.

Published in two parts, Monday and Tuesday, in the daily La Nación, the poll said 28 percent of respondents deemed Arias’ performance as “poor” or “very poor” – twice the number in a March poll – while only 29 percent gave the president a thumbs up, plummeting from the last poll by almost half.

“We’ve seen (the numbers) falling all over,” Unimer’s technical vice president for Costa Rica, Catalina García, told The Tico Times.

García highlighted two main factors. “Forty-three percent of the population believes the government knows how to solve the country’s problems, but doesn’t do anything. That’s a very harsh indicator,” she said.

Secondly, the poll indicates Costa Ricans don’t perceive equal treatment by their government.

“Approximately 60 percent believed in March that the administration governs to benefit certain sectors; it has now reached 81 percent,” García said.

In the latest poll, Unimer interviewed 1,230 Ticos from Aug. 28 to Sept. 4. The government has not been short of scandals during that period and in the past five months since the prior survey.

Arias and a number of his closest, turn over-prone government ministers have come under fire for several controversies, including the recently revealed secret sale of $300 million bonds to China.

It’s the Economy, Oscar

However, while stealing much media limelight, and even making headlines abroad, it isn’t the Chinese bonds scandal that has most caused Costa Ricans to lose faith in their government, according to Unimer.

“For Costa Ricans, the issue of cost of living has made a strong impact on their family economics, especially in the middle class,” García said.

Eighty-four percent thinks the economy is worse off than a year ago, according to the poll.

“When we asked who is responsible for this, they (interviewees) blame the government completely,” García added.

“That’s what’s caused the decline in perception of the president. Even beyond the growing problem of insecurity, the cost of living makes a huge impact,” she said. “In fact, very few people are able to identify with it being a global crisis of food or fuel.”

The latest poll contrasts with a survey by CID-Gallup published in late July in the daily La República, which said 33 percent of Costa Ricans had a positive image of the president.


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