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Polls reveal Ticos thoughts on Chinchilla, crime and the environment

The popularity of Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla dropped four points since October, from 41 percent to 37 percent, according to a poll published this week in the daily La Nación.

A little more than one-third of Costa Ricans view Chinchilla’s work as favorable, 19 percent view her first year in office “unfavorably,” and 44 percent are neutral, according to a poll by the firm Unimer, which La Nación published on Monday.

In October, 41 percent of Ticos thought favorably of Chinchilla’s administration, while 17 percent thought it was unfavorable.

The poll is based on surveys of 1,202 people from March 7 to 15, and has a margin of error of 2.8 percent.

The country’s faith in Chinchilla’s leadership has taken a big hit since she took office on May 8, 2010, when 74 percent of Costa Ricans said she was a strong leader. That number has shrunk to 58 percent.

María Luisa Ávila

Health Minister María Luisa Ávila is the most popular member of Laura Chinchilla’s cabinet, according to a recent survey.

Blake Schmidt

Almost 60 percent of respondents believe the president has not defined the areas of focus for her administration. Almost half – 44 percent of Ticos – believe the government should focus on reducing crime and boosting public security, while 13 percent said Chinchilla should give priority to reducing unemployment and lowering the cost of living.

The polling firm also asked: “What has been President Laura Chinchilla’s biggest accomplishment in her first year of office?” For 46 percent of respondents, Chinchilla’s top accomplishment during her first 11 months in office was “good management of the Nicaragua conflict.

The second most common response by polled Ticos was that they considered Chinchilla’s incentive-based education plan, known as Avancemos, to be her biggest accomplishment, even though the program was created during the administration of former President Oscar Arias.

Fewer than five percent of the surveyed respondents chose “repair efforts on ‘La Platina’ bridge,” “good management of foreign policy” and “highway repairs” as Chinchilla’s biggest accomplishments.

Among Chinchilla’s cabinet, the most popular ministers are Health Minister María Luisa Ávila (79 percent) and Education Minister Leonardo Garnier (70 percent), according to La Nación.  Behind them were Environment Minister Teófilo de la Torre (54 percent) and Security Minister José María Tijerino (53 percent). The least favorite is Public Transportation Minister Francisco Jiménez, as only 42 percent of respondents said they have a favorable opinion of him.

A separate poll published this week by El Financiero confirmed that most Costa Ricans’ concerns about crime far outweigh their concerns about environmental issues.

El Financiero and the University of Costa Rica’s School of Statistics conducted the study.

That poll was based on phone interviews with 718 people across the country. Some 74 percent of respondents said crime is their top concern, followed by financial hardship (20 percent) and loss of family ties (15 percent). Only 13 percent mentioned environmental problems as their top concern. 

Research also shows that despite increasing environmental awareness, consumers have not modified their purchasing habits. Only 17 percent of respondents said they buy organic products. Slightly less than 20 percent said they only buy environmentally friendly home appliances, and 22 percent say they take extra care when disposing of cellphone batteries and tires.

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