In terms of government responsiveness, Bolivia, a majority-indigenous country that elected its first indigenous president Evo Morales to office in 2005, scores among the top, at No. 2. Ecuador, with left-leaning President Rafael Correa, sits at No. 6, and by comparison, the US is at No. 11, with only Guatemala ranking behind it. Uruguay ranked No. 1.
Government responsiveness is a standard measure that, in this case, is drawn from 2010 AmericasBarometer survey data, based on the statement, “Those who govern are interested in what people like you think."
For civil society participation, Bolivia sits at the very top, and when measuring the percent of GDP spent on social programs it is No. 3. When it comes to personal empowerment, Nicaragua is at 3, with Ecuador at 5, and Bolivia at 6 (Peru, Brazil, Mexico, Guatemala, Paraguay, and Colombia all fall behind these three).
"People's sense of frustration with their government is lacking in Ecuador and Bolivia," says Christopher Sabatini, editor-in-chief of Americas Quarterly in New York. There is a high level of political participation there, and people sense the government is responding to their needs, and they sense their own power to change things, says Mr. Sabatini.