Santos hailed as regional leader, but approval falls at home in Colombia

Colombia's President Santos is riding high regionally, but a new poll suggests his domestic approval ratings have dropped, writes guest blogger James Bosworth.

John Vizcaino/REUTERS
Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos speaks during a Spain-Colombia forum at the Chamber of Commerce in Bogota April 19.

• A version of this post ran on the author's blog, The views expressed are the author's own.

Regionally, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos is riding high. He certainly showed smart diplomacy during the Summit of the Americas. Numerous articles, including a cover story in Time Magazine, have praised his leadership and increased his regional profile.

A new poll out of Semana Magazine this weekend suggests that his domestic ratings have dropped. Some notes from the poll:

  • Santos's approval rating is 58 percent, down from 71 percent in July of last year.
  • Unemployment is his biggest weakness, with 42 percent of Colombians listing it as a top problem and only 30 percent saying that Santos has managed the issue of creating jobs well.
  • Security, however, is no longer a big strength to balance out the weak opinions on the economy. Only 49 percent of Colombians approve of how Santos is doing on security issues, a drop of 12 points in six months. 25 percent of Colombians list insecurity as their top concern.
  • 64 percent think the judicial system is corrupt or very corrupt. 59 percent believe political pressure influences judicial decisions.
  • Interestingly, President Uribe's approval rating has also dropped in Colombia. Only 56 percent view him positively and 33 percent view him negatively, worse numbers than he received than almost any point during his term. It's unclear whether the disapproval comes from a change in how Colombians view his time in office or annoyance at how he is handling his post-presidential role.
  • Asked about legalization of drugs, only 21 percent of Colombians approve while 69 percent disapprove. Santos may be taking a domestic political risk by promoting the debate.

– James Bosworth is a freelance writer and consultant who runs Bloggings by Boz.

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