January 18, 2017 / 2:47 PM / 7 months ago

Mexican president's approval rating hits record low after fuel hikes

MEXICO CITY, Jan 18 (Reuters) - A deeply unpopular fuel price hike has pushed Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto's approval rating to a record low of just 12 percent, the worst for any president in decades, a newspaper poll showed on Wednesday.

The president's approval ratings on employment, anti-corruption efforts and his handling of the economy were all in the single digits, according to the poll by major daily Reforma.

Pena Nieto's government has been battered by a lackluster economy, corruption scandals, rampant violence, and most recently the fallout from the double-digit increase in government-set gasoline prices that took effect on Jan. 1.

The so-called "gasolinazo" has led to protests across the country as well as highway blockades and looting of gas stations and stores. Prices are gradually being relaxed and opened to market forces as part of major energy sector change.

The Reforma poll, which surveyed 1,000 people in person between Jan. 11-15, also showed that 41 percent ranked the economy and poverty as the top problems facing the country, up from 16 percent in the newspaper's previous poll a month ago.

Pena Nieto's approval stood at 24 percent in Reforma's previous poll in mid-December.

The survey's margin of error is 4.2 percent. (Reporting by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Simon Gardner and Jeffrey Benkoe)

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