Latin America’s Electoral Marathon

Between November 2017 and November 2019, Latin America will witness 14 presidential elections. The polls in Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and Venezuela will be covered in The Bulletin by MPP students and Alumni from these countries.


Presidential elections are always interesting to follow if one wants to understand the social and political dynamics of a country. Besides bringing up policy issues affecting voting citizens in their daily lives, an election can bring up significant debates in a national level, while also drawing international attention due to the possible repercussions of one or another candidate’s victory.

The upcoming elections in Latin America bring an interesting additional component: the decline of the Latin American left. Not long ago, many of the more prominent economies in the region were run by left-oriented parties with a pragmatic agenda, most of which rose to power in the early 2000’s in a process called “pink tide”[1] by William Lawrence Rohter, Jr., a New York Times journalist. This tide seems now to be fading after series of electoral defeats such as in Argentina and Venezuela, and the corruption scandals that dominated the news in Brazil, Peru, and Bolivia, for example. The Latin American left, so popular one decade ago, is now struggling to reinvent itself and remain electorally viable, meanwhile new forms of populism gain momentum. The electoral races taking place in 2018 will function as a thermometer for that phenomenon.

The context in which the Latin American elections will take place is far from being simple. Countries in the region face challenges to get back on track in terms of solving their social conflicts, reducing violence indicators and raising security levels. The corruption scandals that swept the region will also need to be tackled if new governments want to get on top of their governability issues. As indicated by the latest report from the Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP), this electoral cycle comes in a delicate historical moment when support for democracy has been experiencing a sharp decline, support for governments is dropping, and levels of confidence in elections and institutions of representative democracy are extremely low. The electoral results will be critical to understanding the direction and trends of political change in the region.

The Bulletin’s contributors will cover the elections happening in Venezuela on May 22, Colombia on May 27, Mexico on July 1, and Brazil on October 7. In only six months, four out of five of the largest economies of the region will choose new presidents, an interesting conjecture which happens once every 12 years.

Stay tuned for more detailed reports and insightful analyses!



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Raphael Robiatti works as Project Coordinator at the Willy Brandt School. He is the administrative staff representative in the blog editorial team. He coordinates meetings as well as the blog’s strategic orientation. Raphael has obtained his MPP at the Brandt School in 2015 and is now a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Erfurt. His research focuses on the Governance of Development Financial Institutions in Latin America.