(Merco Press) Support for democracy in Uruguay reached 70% this year, two points higher than in 2016, and leads in Latin America in its overall sustained commitment to democracy, according to the latest release from the Latinbarometer report.

But as in the rest of the region this support has deteriorated compared with 76% in 2015 and 81% in 2009. Anyhow 57% of Uruguayans are satisfied with democracy, which is the highest in the region, ahead of Nicaragua, 52%; Ecuador, 51% Costa Rica, 45% and Argentina, 38%.

Uruguayans also have great trust in the Armed Forces and the Police, with an average support of 59%. More specifically confidence in the services are the second highest in the region behind Ecuador, 66%; but above Colombia, 57%; Mexico, 51% and Brazil, 50%, which is also above the average for the Latinamerican region, 46%.

Uruguay is the country that most trusts the Electoral institutions with 51% support, followed by 46% Costa Rica; Peru, 38%; Mexico, 33% and a region’s 29% average

In reference to the Police, Uruguay’s 59% support is ahead of Ecuador, 53%; Chile, 46%; Panama, 44%, which is above the 35% overall for the region.

Uruguay is also the country that most trusts the Electoral institutions with 51% support, followed by 46% in Costa Rica; Peru, 38%; Mexico, 33% and the region’s average of 29%. However, confidence in the Judiciary branch drops to 41%, but only behind Costa Rica, 43%, and almost twenty points ahead of the region’s average 25%.

Confidence in the Uruguayan government stands at 39%, behind Nicaragua, 42%, ahead of Bolivia, 38% and the region’s average of 25%. Trust in parliament reaches 34%, with Venezuela leading with 37% but above Bolivia, 32% and Ecuador, 30% and the region’s average of 22%. And as in the rest of the world, political parties are the black sheep with overall 15% support in the region, and with exceptions in this very low trust, Uruguay, 25%; Nicaragua, 22%; Ecuador, 20% and Argentina, 18%.

Finally, when Uruguayans were asked how they would define themselves, 4% replied high class, 53% middle class and 40% underdogs. This compares with Brazil where 61% described themselves as poor. When asked specifically how serious was the rich vs poor conflict, 66% of Uruguayans replied “serious” or “very serious”, but it is below the region’s average of 76% and Ecuador’s 86%.

It must also be mentioned that although the “Church” is the institution most trusted in Latin America, of the 18 countries only two express limited trust and they are Uruguay and Chile, 41% and 36% respectively, which have a high percentage of their populations agnostic, atheist or simply non-religious. Ten countries have an above 70% trust in the Church, six between 55% and 69%, and because of Uruguay and Chile the overall average is only 65%.

Latinbarometer is an annual public opinion report which makes some 20.000 interviews in 18 Latin American countries representing 600 million people. It is an NGO seated in Santiago de Chile, which was started in 1995, and surveys the development of democracy economy and society. The report’s results have become a respected trustworthy reference for institutions, media and politics of the region.