January 12, 2006

A Picture of the Bolivian Voter

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This post starts a series trying to develop a picture of the Bolivian voter. It is mainly based on a study completed by the Bolivian electoral court, as part of their "educate the voter" initiative. This study, as mentioned earlier, gives a picture of the preferences, perceptions and characteristics of the average Bolivian voter. This picture was taken end of 2004. I will start by looking at how informed is the voter and which ones are his or her sources of information.

On the graph above we can observe that the average voter presents some significant level of knowledge about Bolivian politics. The example highlights the percentage of Bolivians who know the names of various office holders, starting with the president's office down to the local deputy. According to the graph, 90.7 percent of Bolivians know the name of the president, and 52.9 percent know the name of the local mayor. It is interesting to note that only 25.2 percent know the name of their departmental prefect. The lower numbers are for the knowledge of the members of the legislative.

The next graph shows voters' knowledge of their political leaders (same as above), but broken down by education.

The graph shows five levels of education, none, primary, high school, technical and superior. The blue line shows knowledge of the president's name and the red line shows knowledge of the local deputy's name. So we can see that the more educaded the Bolivian voter is the more chances there is he or she knows the president's name. Nevertheless, 76.7 percent of those who do not have any education do know the name of the president. I guess Jay Leno would be hard pressed in the streets of Bolivia whith his "jay walking" parody on politics. Also to see is that even among the most educated, there is little interest to learn the names of the local legislative representatives.

The next graph shows knowledge of men vs. women.

What we can take from this graph is that men are a little more knowledgeable than women. Again, knowledge on the legislative is very low.

The next graph shows us the sources of information.

So where do Bolivians get their information? Well, 56,3 percent get it from the television, and 22,1 percent get it from the radio. Television rules in the urban areas and among the most well off. Radio is the mode of information for the rural areas and the less well off. Somewhere I read that the radio branch in Bolivia is surprisingly well developed. There is an amazing network of radios reaching the four corners of the territory. For the rural people is an indispensable tool.