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The Uncertainty of Latin America’s Election Cycle
By admin February 6, 2018

Source: Brookings Institute (https://www.brookings.edu/opinions/the-state-of-democracy-in-latin-america/)

Latin America has entered a period of significant political uncertainty. Starting last year in Honduras and Chile, between 2017 and 2019, fourteen of the eighteen countries in the region will go through major elections. This period of major political change in the region takes place in the context of major political and economic trends in the world. First, Latin America is finally showing signs of economic growth after years of deceleration. The IMF forecasted global economic growth of 3.6 percent for 2017 and 3.7 percent for 2018, which means that Latin America’s forecast targeted 1.2 percent growth in 2017 and 1.9 percent growth in 2018. This does not compare to the increases in economic growth that occurred in the region in the beginning of the 21st century, but there is  a sigh of relief given the regional difficulties that took place after China’s reduction in the consumption of commodities in 2014.

If the region was in the middle of a booming cycle, political uncertainty would not be a risk for Latin America’s stability. However, low economic growth usually signals social and democratic backlashes in the region. According to Latinobarometro, support for democracy in Latin America has decreased significantly between 2010 and 2017. This trend follows the economic deceleration of the region. In fact, as reported by The Economist, Latin Americans tend to favor democratic institutions in moments of economic gains. However, when economic growth decreases, people tend to lose faith in political parties, political institutions, and more worrisome, in democracy as the preferred political system.

It is in this context that the next twelve elections in the region represent a significant challenge to democracy and political stability. The region has lost ground from the economic achievements of the 2000s, there are no clear leaders in the regional panorama that could push for political and democratic stability. Latin America has a historic tendency of abandoning democracy during economic shortfalls, and as reported by The Economist Intelligence Unit in its Democracy Index report for 2017, there is a global trend of democratic recession. All of these conditions mark an uncertain future for Latin America, signaling changes against democratic institutions in the hemisphere.

For More Information

Latin America’s Supper Election Cycle is Wide Open

When the Tide Goes Out

Latin America’s Unusual Leadership Vacuum

The Economist Intelligence Unit Democracy Index 2017

 

 


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