Venezuela is in the middle of the worst crisis that the country has ever seen. Since the sharp fall in global oil prices in 2014, Venezuela’s oil-based economy has collapsed. Inflation has reached astronomical levels (800%), and now more than four fifths of the population are living under conditions of poverty, without adequate access to food and medicine. On top of this, the economic problems have fueled political instability: protesters have taken to the streets, often clashing violently with security forces, as the opposition parties blame the current president Nicolas Maduro for the economic crisis and demand that he step down.

Given that Venezuela is sitting on the largest oil reserves on the planet, the rest of the world is watching carefully. In the midst of full-scale economic and political crisis, reliable on-the-ground information from the Venezuelan population is hard to come by. Thanks to Dalia’s mobile-technology, Dalia’s surveys can reach thousands of people connected to the internet within a matter of days. To get a better understanding of the ongoing political events, Dalia is conducting a monthly survey to track the political events in Venezuela.

The first survey, launched in mid June 2017, was conducted on a representative sample for the online population aged 14-65 of Venezuela and included 627 respondents*. From the survey, Dalia found:

* Non-online polls have indicated that support for Maduro is higher among Venezuelans who are not connected to the internet.

Strong disapproval of the current government

Results show that a majority of respondents disapprove of President Maduro (86% disapprove, 8% approve). Furthermore, 71% disapprove of Maduro’s decision to replace the National Assembly with a new constituent body to rewrite the country’s constitution. Opponents view the proposal as a ploy by Maduro to consolidate even more power, while Maduro claims it is an attempt to ease political deadlock caused by the opposition. When it comes to the ongoing protests that have filled the streets will millions of Venezuelans since April 1st this year, a majority are in favour of continuing the protests (65% approve, 15% disapprove).

The main problem is the lack of food

The problems in Venezuela are widespread and serious, with nearly the entire population suffering from food shortages (89%) and medicine shortages (88%), high cost of living (86%), inflation (85%), theft (80%), violent crime (80%) among others. Out of all of these problems, however, 45% of Venezuelans select food shortages as their most pressing concern.

Venezuelans blame President Maduro

71% of Venezuelans blame President Maduro, and 51% blame the policies of former president Hugo Chavez. Blame for Maduro is highest among younger, urban and higher-educated Venezuelans.

A majority support the opposition, but with limited expectations

Even though a majority of respondents think that things would be better in Venezuela if the opposition coalition (MUD) gained power, only a minority are fully confident: 29% think things would be much better under the MUD, while 36% think it would be slightly better, and 29% don’t know, or think things might stay the same.

Imprisoned opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez is the most popular candidate for presidency

If people were able to call a referendum and stage a new election before the end of Maduro’s term in 2018, whom would they vote for? Overall, the most popular candidate is Leopoldo Lopez, a controversial figure currently in prison on charges of misusing public funds and of inciting violence at protests in 2014. 41% of internet-connected Venezuelans say they would vote for him if they could, while only 4% would vote for Maduro. However, uncertainty remains high, as 11% wouldn’t vote at all, 11% would chose another candidate not on the list, and 14% are undecided / don’t know.

Survey Methodology

The survey was conducted in June 2017 among n=627 respondents in Venezuela, as part of Dalia Research’s Emerging Markets Pulse for Latin America (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela). The total sample of n=4.857 was drawn across 8 Latin American countries taking into account current population distributions with regard to age (14-65 years), education and gender. In order to obtain nationally representative results of the internet-connected population, the data was weighted based upon the most recent official statistics. The target weighting variables were age, gender, and level of education (as defined by ISCED (2011) levels 0-2, 3-4, and 5-8). An iterative algorithm was used to identify the optimal combination of weighting variables based on sample composition within each country. An estimation of the average design effect based on the distribution of weights was calculated at 1.56. Considering the sample size and the estimation of the design effect, the margin of error would be estimated at +/-4.9% at a confidence level of 95%.

Header Image: Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom/ABr