2014 has an intense political agenda for Latin America, with presidential elections in seven countries how much of the leftist movement will remain now that Chavez is gone and Lula does not have the same international influence in the political arena?
During the first six months, Latin America had presidential elections in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Panama and Colombia, where citizens preferred center-left and left in the first two countries and center-right for the later. Yesterday (October 12th) Bolivia reelected Evo Morales with 59.5% and a historical win in Santa Cruz –ruled by the opposite party and Bolivia’s economic pillar- making him the president with the longest time in power for that Andean country (Evo was first elected in 2005 with 54% of the votes).
That would make 3 out of 7 countries in 2014 that prefer to be ruled by leftist governments moving away from neoliberal politics and the so called Washington consensus. The other two countries that linger on the clipboard are Brazil and Uruguay, both with center-left governments.
In the case of Brazil, the first turn was on October 5th where Rousseff (PT) couldn’t make the 50% required to avoid a runoff, now contested by Neves from the PSDB (originally center-left now moderate right) who got 33% of the votes in the first turn, Rousseff’s victory is uncertain with the latest polls pointing Neves with an important lead of 49% vs a 41% for Mrs. Rousseff who faces a stagnated economy, a 4% budget deficit, an inflation of 6.3% and corruption scandals involving Petrobras.
Both candidates are working their way to win the hearts (and votes) of 142 million citizens for the second turn next October 26th. It is expected that Rousseff’s party will campaign with the speech of fear to win the second turn: a setback on economy, closing important social programs, expenditure cuts, privatization, high tax rates and the fact that under the PSDB administration Brazil declared bankrupt in three occasions. But apart from the speech of fear, Rousseff is boosting Bolsa Familia -the social welfare program benefitting low-income population- recovering the support she lost due of the mass street protests. It is very likely for Rousseff to win the second turn.
Regarding Uruguay, former President Tabaré Vázquez is leading the voting preference with a 43 % but is not enough to avoid a second turn, and in that case it is uncertain that Tabaré wins the presidential election against the Blanco Party candidate Luis Lacalle-Pou who currently has a 32% voting preference. It is very likely that Uruguayans will go and vote again on November 30th but the decision for a center or left government remains unclear.
If PT wins in Brazil, 4 out of 7 countries will reassure the preference of center-left governments and that the Pink Tide will be present in the following elections in Argentina (2015), Peru (2016) Ecuador (2017) and Venezuela (2019) given the fact that addressing local problems as “indigenismo” (pursuit of social and political inclusion of the indigenous minorities), natural resources protection from foreign corporations, and an “autonomy” from United States regarding foreign policy, have benefited center-left and left-wing political parties to remain as favorites in the citizens’ voting preference despite a weak Chavismo and a vague presence of Lula’s charisma in the region.