Latin America’s Shifting Politics: Democratic Survival and Weakness

Issue Date October 2018
Volume 29
Issue 4
Page Numbers 102-113
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Today, most countries in Latin America are experiencing the longest uninterrupted period of democracy in their respective histories. Yet while Latin American democracies may be surviving, few are thriving. Public-opinion surveys reveal waning satisfaction with democratic systems, which Latin Americans have expressed by voting against the political establishment. Public anger at established parties is in some cases a response to poor governance, but also has deeper structural causes that include persistent social inequality, state weakness, and weak political parties. Latin American democracies also face new challenges from a resurgent illiberal right; rising partisan polarization; and a changing international environment. Nonetheless, the continuing robustness of core democratic institutions—together with the poor recent track record of the region’s autocracies—offers some grounds for democratic optimism.

About the Author

Steven Levitsky is professor of government at Harvard University and co-chair of the Journal of Democracy Editorial Board.

View all work by Steven Levitsky