The electoral cycle is underway in Latin America and, in addition to corroborating the hypothesis of the ideological pendulum – between a turn to the right or a return to the left -, social uncertainty reigns in most countries.
It is the result of the economic crisis, the inability of governments to cope with the effects of the pandemic and the political fragmentation expressed in the progressive exhaustion of traditional parties in Chile and Colombia, the attempt to return to socialism. of the 21st century in Brazil and the expectation of a change of ideological signal in Ecuador, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Colombia.
In addition, we cannot lose sight of the outbursts of social discontent in Paraguay and Colombia and the possible uprisings in Ecuador and Peru if the crises are not resolved. And Venezuela has become an intractable problem.
The quality of democracy in the Andean region is going through one of its worst moments. Ecuador and Peru reached the second round with deep fragmentation and a crisis of political representation. In the first case, 16 candidates ran for president and, in the second, 18. The hegemonic era of traditional parties since the third wave of democratization in the early 1980s is over.
In Ecuador, the last three elections were held in the binarism of Corerism against anti-Correism and in Peru, the legacy of Fujimorism has not been overcome either. In Colombia, the decline of the oligarchy that reigned, indiscriminately, liberalism and conservatism in its different factions, is evident. And there is no way out of pro and anti-Uribism either. In all three cases, the personalization of politics is an explanatory element of the polarization.
The presidential elections in Ecuador were in favor of the opponent of the Citizen Revolution. But in the Assembly, the movement led by Belgian Rafael Correa represents the leading political force with 49 of the 137 seats.
In this sense, the government of Guillermo Lasso, of liberal and conservative cut, is obliged to negotiate permanently with the parties represented in the Legislative Assembly which have very different agendas, such as Pachakutik, Izquierda Democrática, the Social-Christian Party and the same koreism as UNES.
If the party in power CREO has been present in political life during the last three periods, it is the first time that it governs and this implies other types of actions in the short, medium and long term.
The definition of economic policy is the main test of political stability, because, unlike public policy which benefited from the biggest oil windfall (2007-2014), the current situation, as in most countries in the region, is catastrophic.
Unemployment affects 7 out of 10 young people between the ages of 16 and 35, and 4 out of 10 people live on $ 2 a day. Added to this is a growing budget deficit and a series of social phenomena such as chronic child malnutrition, a high rate of teenage pregnancies, insecurity and violence in the streets.
President Lasso said the best economic measure is to vaccinate nine million people in 100 days to immunize herds. But how to reactivate the economy, set in motion the engine of social trust and appease the attempts to destabilize its political opponents?
At present, the President has the majority in the Assembly for the election of the main authorities. But this majority is due to the support of the parties which occupied the third and fourth places – Democratic Left and Pachakutik, which have very different agendas – leaving aside the correismo.
The question is: how long will this alliance last? This complex scenario in Ecuador could be repeated in Peru and Chile, since the emergence of new actors for the Constituent Assembly does not guarantee a majority either.
On May 24, Ecuador’s Independence Day, the new government took office. A few days earlier, the Assembly had elected its authorities, leaving aside the stupidity of any function which is the greatest political force, and the president had broken with his natural ally, the right-wing Christian-Social Party. The first could be explained by political binarism, but the second leaves some doubts because an agreement was being prepared between the antagonistic parties in a porous agenda and beyond the understanding of citizens.
On the other hand, the Assembly in Ecuador is led, for the first time in its history, by a woman representing indigenous peoples and nationalities and her party, Pachakutik, represents the second political force. This is a double step forward in terms of political rights for women and indigenous peoples.
During his inauguration, Lasso underlined this fact and the gearing of his speech revolved around four aspects. The first was the restoration of Republican life from the perspective of liberal democracy, where its objective is the elimination of Caudillism and authoritarianism. The second was insertion into a globalized world based on a policy of trade agreements and treaties. The third was the promotion of human rights and the progressivity of the socio-economic rights of women. And finally, the reunification of the country.
This ambitious vision has already been put to the test with the first announcements of protests and mobilizations against him by various social sectors which did not even allow him to start his government in peace. Fragmentation is a reality and governance is the biggest challenge.
* Translation from Spanish by Maria Isabel Santos Lima
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