Support for Venezuela's Maduro drops to 37 percent: report

Reuters News
Posted: May 05, 2014 11:17 AM

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's approval rating dropped to 37 percent in April, according to a new poll quoted in a local newspaper on Monday.

Support for the former bus driver turned president was down from 46.8 percent in February according to a survey by pollster Datanalisis, the El Universal daily reported, without providing a comparative figure for March.

As a policy, Datanalisis, one of the country's best-known public opinion groups, does not publish the results of its surveys or confirm the veracity of media reports about them.

Maduro narrowly won election in 2013 following the death of socialist leader Hugo Chavez. Since then he has faced criticism over economic problems including annualized inflation approaching 60 percent and nagging shortages of staple goods.

Those problems helped spur three months of often violent street protests with the opposition demanding his resignation, though the demonstrations have slowed considerably in recent weeks.

A third of those polled by Datanalisis identified shortages of consumer goods as one of Venezuela's main problems, followed by insecurity and the high cost of living, according to El Universal.

Maduro blames the country's economic issues on sabotage by business leaders backed by the United States, the socialist government's ideological adversary.

In November, he ordered merchants to slash prices of home appliances and ordered troops to occupy one electronics retailer in what he called an "economic offensive."

That push helped the ruling Socialist Party take a majority of votes in the municipal elections held in December.

But the figures published by El Universal show Maduro's approval ratings slipping since then.

Luis Vicente Leon, the director of Datanalisis, has told Reuters without providing data that the economic problems have weighed on Maduro's popularity in recent months.

(Reporting by Brian Ellsworth, editing by G Crosse)