- gerardo licardi
- bbc news world
In the early years of the 21st century, re-election of incumbent presidents was a common practice in Latin America, both among left-wing and right-wing leaders.
but soon Boom Raw materials (main commodities exported by the continent), deep economic problems arose, corruption scandals emerged and social unrest increased (manifested in various waves of protests), all of which were deepened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Then, Latin American electoral trends changed: it became voting against Establishment And give space to the opposition.
In 11 of the 12 presidential elections held in Latin America since 2019, the majority vote was to convert the party to power.
The exception was Nicaragua, but its elections, held in November, were contested by some countries and deemed illegitimate: o President Daniel Ortega He was re-elected for the fourth time in a row, and all other candidates were in prison.
“There is general dissatisfaction with the political class and the party in power pays the bill,” says Paulo Velasco, professor of international politics at the State University of Rio de Janeiro (Urge).
This picture of discontent could be fulfilled in 2022, with three elections planned in the region, two of the most populous countries in South America: Brazil and Colombia.
Schedule and Scenarios
The first election is due in Costa Rica on 6 February, with a possible second round on 3 April between the two candidates with the most votes.
Among the more than 20 registered candidates, there are well-known names around, such as former centrist president Jose María Figueres, conservative former vice president Lineth Saborio and Fabricio Alvarado, a right-wing evangelical leader who lost to the current president in 2018. ., Carlos Alvarado.
In another sign of popular discontent with shift governments, ruling Citizen Action Party candidate Velmar Ramos intends to vote below the margin of error in some opinion polls.
But the two elections in the region that will be focused on this year are Colombia and Brazil, in chronological order.
The first round of the Colombian election is scheduled for 29 May (more than two months after the legislative elections in March) and a possible second round will take place on 19 June.
in the background of Massive street protests of 2021 And with various economic challenges, most opinion polls in Colombia point to the leadership of leftist Gustavo Petro, an economist, former guerrilla and former mayor of Bogota, who lost in the second round in 2018 to incumbent President Ivan Duque.
Petro’s final victory would be something unprecedented: the first time a leftist candidate would be elected president of Colombia.
But the left-right polarization of recent Latin American elections could lead to a different scenario.
The Colombian authority, led by former President lvaro Uribe, has faltered after the Duque government, and Petro may have to compete with a centrist candidate, such as former Medellin mayor Sergio Fajardo, economist Alejandro Gaviria and former presidential senator Carlos Fernando Galán. .
“It is a strong possibility: this polarization between the leftist and the rightist candidate we have today is not sure,” says Patricia Munoz, a professor of political science at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogota.
On the other hand, everything indicates that in Brazil, in the October elections, there will be a confrontation between current President Jair Bolsonaro (PL) and former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT), who is now the leader in the voting polls. The intent for the 2 October election (with a possible second round on 30 October).
So far, polls do not indicate major voting intentions for so-called “third way” candidates, such as former judge and former minister Sergio Moro (Podemos) and former governor Ciro Gomes (PDT).
‘Wave’ from the left?
The eventual victories of Lula and Petro would give a new impetus to the Left in Latin America, not only because of the relative weight of Brazil and Colombia in the continent.
Between 2020 and 2021, left-wing candidates won most of the elections held in the region: Luis Arce in Bolivia, Pedro Castillo in Peru, Xiomara Castro in Honduras and Gabriel Boric in Chile, except in the special case of Nicaragua.
However, some analysts deny that it is now possible to predict a new regional trend, as was the case in the first decade of the century, when many left-wing governments were consolidated and re-elected.
“A picture is beginning to form in which left-wing governments are the majority, but they don’t follow the same trend and I don’t see the wave of the 2000s,” Velasco says.
In his view, it is common that voters in many countries turn to the left after the frustration shown with right-wing presidents elected to replace presidents of the opposite pole.
“If there were more left-wing governments this time around, the tendency would be to win the right-wing or centre-right”, he says.
The major challenge for Latin American governments continues to meet demands for better public services and social security as well as less inequality, perhaps issues with which the Left is more attuned.
However, Latin America will be difficult to act with moderate growth (the regional average is around 3% in 2022 according to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean – ECLAC), inflationary pressures, high public debt and the now brought on by the Omicron version of the coronavirus. Uncertainty gone.
Some experts have also warned that social unrest could reappear in the region with popular protests.
“The poor or rare response of many governments in Latin America and the Caribbean (…) to the current multiple crises could generate a new wave of large-scale and violent social protests”, indicated Idea, an intergovernmental organization based in Sweden. Report on the state of democracy in the region, published in November.
Although the report highlights that democracy has shown signs of resilience during the pandemic, it adds that “attacks on electoral bodies have become more frequent” in Latin America, both by governments and the opposition in Brazil, El Salvador. , in countries like Mexico and Peru .
In this context, there will also be an eye on Brazil’s election after Bolsonaro’s attacks on the electoral system (in November, he endorsed and said he had “believed in electronic voting”) and Brazil’s President Donald Trump without evidence. supported the claim. That there was fraud in the 2020 US presidential election.
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