“economic crises are often the catalyst for new approaches to policy making in developing regions like Latin America” ~ Kaplan
History in the region has shown us that consequences of macroeconomic crisis can frustrate populations, which is then reflected in the political votes. After the election of Macri in Argentina and the Peruvian elections this past Sunday, lets have a look at the Political Trend in LA:
Venezuela: is the most complete symbol of the radical processes within the progressive cycle. First time in almost 20 years that Chavismo popularity was defeated. For many years Venezuela has been the face of the left at least until Maduro start loosing control of economy and populism, as a consequence of the economic and humanitarian crisis unfolding as we speak. The opposition seemed to present a better solution and so they won 2/3 of the seats in the Parliament, last December.
Bolivia: The recent referendum in Bolivia said ‘NO’ to a Morales 4th term. When Morales came to power in 2006 it represented a huge victory to the left, as well as to the indigenous social movements that paved his way to the presidency. Ten years later, it seems that the development has stagnated and that Morales is more concerned in pursuing historical disputes (as his aspiration to recuperate access to the ocean lost in the war with Chile, by taking the case to ICJ) than boosting the economy. This ‘NO’ is a sign that Bolivians want change.
CAVEAT: Even though the opposition in Venezuela and Bolivia have had their impact, the extent to which they can achieve radical change is still questionable. It is too early to access whether they will have any major impact since the bolivar project is still in Morales’ and Maduro’s priorities and they have not shown enough flexibility to accept the shift that citizens are asking for.
Peru: First round of elections that took place last Sunday, saw Keiko Fujimori winning with 39.5% and will face Pedro Kuczynski in the presidential elections in June. Both of these candidates are Center Right, therefore regardless of who wins there will be a shift from the current Pre. Humala that sits on the socialist side. If Keiko is elected, she will face questions of legitimacy as her father is still to be persecuted for crimes against humanity committed during his dictatorship. Most notable the program that left 300,000 indigenous women sterilized.
Brazil: Brazil, similarly to Argentina has seen an economic erosion but also a political deterioration. In Argentina that resulted in Macri’s election and in Brazil the court has approved the impeachment against Dilma. The long standing socialist party Partido dos Trabalhadores, faces legitimacy concerns as a consequence of an economic stagnation and a failed neo-developmentalist economic model. The opposition has already won a great deal of support.
Ecuador has sought to distance itself from the US neoliberal economic model, however the Ecuadorian economy is at the doorstep of a recession with decreasing economic growth according to the IMF. It is the 3rd largest loan taker from China in the region. Politically, it is facing disappointment by the military branch, teachers, students, doctors, hospital employees, journalists, and businessmen upset at the government. It has also seen some minister resigning out of frustration. Protests now use the slogan “Coup against Correa”. It is a country to keep an eye out for as it will likely follow the same trend as the previous countries, soon enough we might see a center right wing president come to power.
Then we have those countries that have already been under neoliberalism rule so the political scene there is not undergoing as a dramatic shift
- Chile and Uruguay who are socialists but not as extreme left as the other countries in the region, in fact they have quite a liberal economic model. This model has shown some shortfalls, especially in Chile so these countries are likely to benefit from the opening of the economy in the traditional ‘Bolivarian countries’.
- Colombia traditionally is the long lasting US partner in the region. Today, thanks to the peace agreements with FARC and now with ELN, it is likely to have a more stable prosperous political scene.
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