Argentines are headed to the polls for their general election on Oct. 27. They will cast their votes against a backdrop of wide discontent with the way things are going in the country and little faith in their elected officials and public institutions, according to a Pew Research Center survey.
The election comes as the nation’s economy tries to recover from an August financial crisis. The peso lost over 30% of its value and the main stock market dropped 38% immediately following incumbent President Mauricio Macri’s second-place finish during the Aug. 11 primaries.
The August financial shock is the latest of a long series of crises that have plagued Argentina’s economy. According to a 2018 report by the World Bank, the nation has experienced 14 financial crises since 1950, not including this latest recession.
Here are five findings about the public mood in Argentina as the election approaches:
1There is widespread pessimism among the Argentine public about the nation’s direction. About eight-in-ten (82%) express dissatisfaction with the way things are going in Argentina today. Younger Argentines (ages 18 to 29) are significantly more likely than those 50 and older (87% vs. 73%) to say they’re dissatisfied with conditions in the country. Similarly, women are more likely than men to hold this view (86% vs. 78%).
2Roughly eight-in-ten Argentines (83%) say the country’s economic situation is bad. This share is lower than in 2002, when 98% said the economic situation was bad following an economic crisis. Currently, only 15% say the economic situation is good. (Our survey was conducted before the market shock that occurred in August.)
Assessments of the current economic situation vary by political party. A near universal share of adults (94%) with an unfavorable view of Cambiemos, the current ruling party, say the economic situation is bad, while a smaller majority of those who view the party favorably (57%) say the same. Similarly, 94% of those with a favorable view of Kirchnerismo, the party that defeated Macri in the August primary, say the economic situation is bad, while 76% of those with an unfavorable view share the same view.
When it comes to the financial future of children in Argentina, the public is split – 42% believe their children will be better off than their parents, while 47% say they’ll be worse off.
3Discontentment among Argentines extends across a wide range of conditions in the country. Overall, 72% of Argentines say they are pessimistic with how the political system works when thinking about the future. Those with a favorable view of the ruling party are less likely to feel pessimistic about the way their political system works than those with an unfavorable view (58% vs. 78%), though majorities of both are still pessimistic.
Roughly half of the Argentine public reports feeling pessimistic about the possibility of reducing the gap between the rich and poor (52%), the nation’s education system (52%) and the availability of well-paying jobs (51%).
On a positive note, a majority of Argentines express optimism about their country’s culture when looking ahead (61%).
4Argentines express little trust in elected officials and public institutions. One-in-five (20%) agree that the state is run for the benefit of all people and that most elected officials care what people like themselves think (21%). Adults ages 18 to 29 are less likely than those 50 and older to agree that the government is run for the benefit of all people (16% vs. 26%). Those with a favorable view of Cambiemos are also more likely to agree that the state works for everyone (39%) than those with unfavorable views (13%).
Despite the dissatisfaction with aspects of the political system, Argentines are optimistic about democratic participation – 55% say that voting gives people like themselves some say in how the government runs things.
5A majority of the Argentine public is dissatisfied with the state of their democracy. About six-in-ten (61%) express dissatisfied views, which fits the trend exhibited in recent years.
Roughly six-in-ten adults with a secondary education or below (63%) express dissatisfaction, while about half (48%) of those who have attained more education say the same. Similarly, 70% of those who make less than the median income are dissatisfied with democracy’s functioning, while roughly six-in-ten (57%) of those with an income above the median share the same view.
There are differences by political views. The only group with a majority that expresses satisfaction with the way democracy functions are those who have a favorable view of the ruling party. Majorities of those with favorable views of Kirchnerismo and Peronismo express dissatisfaction with democracy’s functioning (68% and 60%, respectively).
Note: See full topline results and methodology.