Region: Latin America and the Caribbean

January 2018, Volume 29, Issue 1

Reevaluating Runoffs in Latin America

The worldwide popularity of runoff rules for presidential elections has grown strikingly in recent decades. In Latin America, contrary to scholarly expectations, this shift has had important benefits for democracy. 

April 2017, Volume 28, Issue 2

Nicaragua: A Return to Caudillismo

With the ruling FSLN’s one-sided triumph in the November 2016 elections, Nicaraguan democracy underwent further erosion. The emerging authoritarian party-state, far from being a leftist revolutionary government, is becoming a neopatrimonial dictatorship in an older Latin American style.

July 2016, Volume 27, Issue 3

Delegative Democracy Revisited: Peru Since Fujimori

After spending the 1990s coping with an overweening president, Peru settled into a more sedate style of politics, but it is one in which parties barely exist, voters feel unhappy with their elected chief executives despite strong economic growth, and technocracy rather than democracy is the key mode of decision making. 

April 2016, Volume 27, Issue 2

Latin America’s New Turbulence: The End of the Kirchner Era

With a skillfully conveyed message of managerial competence and an electorate disenchanted by a floundering economy and the outgoing incumbent’s confrontational style, Mauricio Macri demonstrated that a non-Peronist can win Argentina’s presidency.

October 2015, Volume 26, Issue 4

A New Militarism in Latin America

Latin American countries are burdened with domestic security problems and institutional weaknesses that have led to a rising political role for the military forces. Are there serious dangers in this “turn toward the barracks”?

April 2012, Volume 23, Issue 2

Argentina: The Persistence of Peronism

Despite a rocky first term, Peronist President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner saw her popularity rebound, leading to a huge reelection victory in 2011. Why is Peronism still the dominant “brand” in Argentine politics, and how has she come to own it so thoroughly?

April 2011, Volume 22, Issue 2

The Politics of Personality in Brazil

Dilma Rousseff won the 2010 presidential election as the handpicked successor of a towering political personality. Now she must assert firm sway over a ruling party and coalition to which she has remarkably slender ties, and face new challenges that her country cannot meet with “more of the same.”

April 2011, Volume 22, Issue 2

Latin America’s Gay-Rights Revolution

Even before Argentina’s landmark gay-marriage law was passed in July 2010, a gay-rights revolution was well underway across Latin America. But do gay rights by law equal acceptance of gays in practice?

Free

January 2011, Volume 22, Issue 1

Latin America: A Surge to the Center

The left-right ideological divide has begun to narrow in Latin America as citizens and leaders increasingly choose a pragmatic approach to politics and embrace the rules of the democratic game.

January 2011, Volume 22, Issue 1

Latin America: A Setback for Chávez

Hugo Chávez has been running a bounded competitive-authoritarian regime for some time, but its ability to compete is now slipping. Will this tend to make it less authoritarian—or even more so?

January 2011, Volume 22, Issue 1

Latin America: Colombia After Uribe

Often thought of as a “nascent” democracy, Colombia actually has longstanding democratic institutions. In 2010, they were effective in determining who would succeed a highly popular, two-term president.

July 2010, Volume 21, Issue 3

Chile: Are the Parties Over?

For the first time since the fall of Pinochet, the Chilean right has come to power via free elections. The long-ruling center-left coalition leaves behind many achievements, but also disturbing signs of a weakened party system.

July 2010, Volume 21, Issue 3

Documents on Democracy, July 2010

Excerpts from remarks presented by newly elected Chilean president Sebastián Piñera upon signing a set of proposed laws for the strengthening of democracy to be submitted to the Congress.

April 2010, Volume 21, Issue 2

Trouble in Central America: Honduras Unravels

A Central American military once again returned to the political center stage in 2009, but this had less to do with power-hungry generals than with warring civilian elites whose respect for liberal-democratic principles proved to be questionable at best.

July 2009, Volume 20, Issue 3

The Turnover in El Salvador

In March 2009, El Salvador saw its first peaceful alternation of power since independence, as the FMLN, a former guerilla movement that laid down its arms in 1992, finally won the presidency.

April 2009, Volume 20, Issue 2

Hugo Chávez’s “Petro-Socialism”

Will Hugo Chávez’s victory in the 15 February 2009 vote to end term limits enable him to drive Venezuela toward “Bolivarian socialism”? There are reasons to doubt this, but for now democracy’s prospects do not look encouraging.

January 2009, Volume 20, Issue 1

Can Cuba Change? Tensions in the Regime

Although the transfer of power from Fidel to Raúl has been relatively uneventful, potential divisions within the ruling elite, especially between the military and the Party, are likely to emerge before too long.

April 2008, Volume 19, Issue 2

Politics, Markets, and Society in Lula’s Brazil

Brazil under Lula offers a test case of how politicians and societal interests in developing countries react when economic growth and new possibilities change the name of the game from shock and scarcity to boom and prosperity.

October 2007, Volume 18, Issue 4

Latin America’s Indigenous Peoples

Where indigenous peoples constitute a smaller share of the electorate, their recent inclusion denotes a more generalized opening of the political system to excluded and vulnerable sectors of society.

January 2007, Volume 18, Issue 1

The Mexican Standoff: The Mobilization of Distrust

Mexico’s system of electoral governance and dispute settlement worked reasonably well, yet it created too much noise and too many needless invitations to distrust. The failures observed were less those of institutions than of actors. The loser reacted deplorably, but none of those involved acted in a manner beyond reproach.

July 2006, Volume 17, Issue 3

The Crisis of Representation in the Andes

Despite a significant expansion of citizenship over the last few decades, the Andean nations face a severe crisis of democratic representation. The root of the problem lies not in the mechanisms of representation but in poor state performance.

July 2005, Volume 16, Issue 3

Lula’s Brazil at Midterm

Many saw the election of Workers' Party leader Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva to the Brazilian presidency in October 2002 as the beginning of an era. Two years into his first term, Lula has yet to live up to that expectation.

July 2005, Volume 16, Issue 3

Costa Rica: Paradise in Doubt

Once routinely praised as the "Switzerland of Central America," Costa Rica has in recent years begun to show troubling signs of having a political system that citizens feel is not keeping faith with them.

January 2005, Volume 16, Issue 1

The Referendum in Venezuela: Elections versus Democracy

While charges of electronic fraud in the actual voting or vote-counting are unproven, the dubious and even illegal tactics that the Chavez regime used throughout the larger process point to rampant "institutional fraud" that is undermining Venezuelan democracy.

Free

October 2004, Volume 15, Issue 4

Latin American Presidencies Interrupted

Over the last two decades, Latin America has seen more than a dozen presidencies come to a premature end. It is time to consider changing constitutional designs that promote conflict rather than more consensual ways of doing politics.

July 2004, Volume 15, Issue 3

Curbing Central America’s Militaries

Since the end of the Cold War, Central America has seen a regionwide diminution of military influence that bodes well for democratic governance and healthier civil-military relations.

January 2004, Volume 15, Issue 1

Fox’s Mexico at Midterm

Mexico’s 2003 congressional elections confirmed both the transition to fully competitive politics and the persistence of structural deficiencies associated with a multiparty presidential system.