BOGOTA, Nov 6 (Reuters) – A scandal involving accusations of improper state payouts to friends of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has cut his popularity and threatens to complicate his re-election plans, according to a poll released on Friday.
Uribe’s popularity dropped to 64 percent from 70 percent two months ago, said the Invamer-Gallup survey.
Washington’s ally in the left-tilting Andean region, Uribe may run for a third term if the subsidy scandal and sluggish economy do not bog down efforts by his supporters to change the constitution to allow him to stand in next May’s election.
The conservative leader remains the most popular politician in the country thanks to his U.S.-backed crackdown on drug-running Marxist guerrillas who are widely loathed for their practice of kidnapping.
But the scandal — in which the opposition accuses the agriculture ministry of handing out millions of dollars in subsidies to businesses and individuals, including a local beauty queen, with ties to Uribe — has taken a toll.
“It has affected the perception of the government’s handling of corruption,” said Jorge Londono, head of Invamer-Gallup, which carried out the survey of 1,000 voters in the cities of Bogota, Medellin, Cali and Barranquilla.
Adding to Uribe’s troubles, Colombia has been pushed into recession by fallout from the world economic slowdown.
“This is the lowest popularity rating we’ve ever seen for Uribe,” Londono said. “When there is a scandal at a time of slow economic activity, it hurts.”
Chart of the day is…..
…the approval ratings of President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia, November 2007 to November 2009.
The bimonthly survey run by Gallup has just registered its lowest reading for Uribe in seven years. Hey, 64% is still better than most and he has a hardcore of supporters that verge of deification over there. But that 64% is also an interesting move, what with the US troops coming to breakfast and the dude battling to get the rules changed so he can be king again and all that. Plus the reasons given below, of course. Here’s Reuters with the quotes: