In 2018, the three biggest countries in Latin America – Mexico, Colombia and Brazil – will hold elections to elect new presidents. These elections are occurring in the context of political and social turmoil in each case, where the people who have felt left behind under the current neoliberal agendas are the poor and those living in rural areas.
In Mexico, 2017 was the most murderous year on record, with over 29,000 homicides. Violence and insecurity, widespread political corruption and discontent with the current party are some of the most important issues at the forefront of voters’ minds, and the status quo is being challenged. Three-time and left-wing Presidential candidate, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, dominates the polls but it is still unclear whether he will actually win.
In Brazil, this year’s election comes amidst the fallout of the country’s biggest investigation into political corruption, “Lava Jato”, (or “Car Wash”), now in its fifth year. Former President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva seeks to contest the election despite being jailed under the investigation, and would likely be the favourite if allowed to do so. However, his eligibility remains unclear, and Brazilians may still prefer to give their vote to candidates on the more extreme left and right such as Ciro Gomes and Jair Bolsonaro.
In Colombia, despite the current government putting an end to the country’s 52-year-long civil conflict, some feel that the terms of the peace deal were too tolerant on the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. Colombia’s former Senator Iván Duque and ex-mayor of Bogota Gustavo Petro lead in the polls.
In a continent where most of the population are dissatisfied with their democracy as a whole, these new elections could trigger political changes across the region.
Join our discussion with the following speakers:
Juan Carlos Muñoz-Mora (IDS): Juan Carlos is Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Conflict and Violence Cluster at IDS. His primary research interests are in Development Economics, Political Economics, Agricultural Economics and Micro-econometrics.
Irving Huerta (Goldsmiths University): Irving is a Mexican journalist now enrolled in a MPhil & PhD in Politics. He is co-author of the book “La casa blanca de Peña Nieto” (“The Mexican President’s white house”), published in 2015, about a property owned by the Mexican presidential family and built by a governmental contractor.
Thomas Cooper-Patriota (IDS): Thomas is a PhD Candidate at IDS. His current doctoral research focuses on comparatively examining peasant family farmer organisations’ policy influence through their participation in deliberations at the regional level in South America (MERCOSUR) and West Africa (ECOWAS).