Category: Elections

Mexico’s Presidential Election: Taking the Chávez Out of López Obrador

Over the past few years there has been a surprising shift to the left in Latin American politics, raising concern among domestic businessmen, international investors, and the U.S. government about the sanctity of their investments. Rather than support the Washington Consensus, a growing number of politicians have improved their political prospects by blaming fiscal austerity and free-market economics for their countries’ lackluster …

High Emotions, Little Content: Colombia’s Presidential Election

Colombian presidential elections are scheduled for may, but with only ten weeks to election day, the field of presidential candidates remains very crowded. Congressional elections, held two months prior to presidential elections, have frequently served to indicate which pre-candidates were most viable. Lists of congressional candidates associated with presidential hopefuls did battle with one another and helped gauge public sentiment…

DRCLAS Will Open a Brazil office in 2006: Jason Dyett to Become Its Program Director

Harvard’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (DRCLAS) is delighted to announce the opening of a new Brazil Office in São Paulo. The mission of the Harvard Brazil Office—which will begin operations on July 1, 2006—will be manifold: developing closer ties between Harvard University and leading academic and research institutions in Brazil; supporting faculty research and teaching in and on Brazil; helping Harvard …

Cuban Scholars at Harvard

Since the David Rockefeller Center first opened its doors in 1994, it has played host to over 60 Cuban visiting scholars for extended periods of work and collaboration in fields as diverse as archival preservation and indexing, economics, history, tropical medicine, political science, public administration, and public health. This March, the Center was hoping to host three Cuban scholars who would visit Harvard following the XXVI …

¿Votos para qué? The Fragile Democratic Consolidation in Latin America

In 2006, democracy in latin america faces a paradoxical future. On the one hand, perhaps never in the continent’s history has democracy seemed so strong. For all intents and purposes, democracy as a political system is uncontested. In all countries, with the significant exclusion of Cuba, some process of alteration of power through electoral mechanisms has taken place. Many countries have enjoyed several cycles of elections. With the …

Old Wine in New Bottles? Economic Policymaking by Left-of-center Governments in Latin America

Then one is scanning the medium-term economic prospects and policies of Latin America, a crucial element to take into consideration is the recent prevalence of left-of-center governments in the region. What are the economic policies that they implement? How do they differ from the orthodox ones implemented by their predecessors? Will, as their passionate advocates proclaim, governments of this “New Left”* adopt economic …

Is Latin America Turning Socialist: The Region’s Electoral Trend

Since 2000, candidates representing leftist parties and coalitions have won an unprecedented seven presidential elections. Leftist presidents now govern most of Latin America: most of its people, most of its land area, and most of its wealthier nations. And in the largest remaining non-leftist country—Mexico—a leftist candidate currently leads in the polls to replace President Vicente Fox in 2006. There is little doubt that disappointment …

Thin Air for Democratic Governance: The 2006 Andean Elections

The concurrence of more than a dozen elections throughout Latin America in 2006 signals the region’s commitment to consolidate electoral democracies. This unprecedented event also highlights dramatic disparities in the quality and legitimacy of democratic regimes. While some democracies have strongly moved in the direction of good governance and sound economic performance, others have experienced significant turmoil, …

The 2006 Presidential Election in Venezuela: Electoral Competition and Regime Change

Between 1999 and 2005, Venezuelans have been called to cast their ballots ten times. These frequent elections have been the government showcase for democracy. Yet elections have become progressively less competitive, as President Hugo Chávez and his followers have concentrated an unusual amount of power and effectively sidelined the National Assembly. The opposition has also warned of fraud and other forms of …

Will the United States Ever Leave Nicaragua Alone? The Presidential Election of 2006

Even before the landslide election of evo morales as president of Bolivia at the end of 2005, and with left-leaning parties in power in Venezuela, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay, there have been hopes and fears, depending on the observer, of a possible left-wing sweep of Latin America. Given that Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the Americas and has only three million people and negligible resources, few outside …

From Revolution to Rouba Mas Faz? Lula’s Reelection Campaign in Brazil

President Lula came to office promising mudança, or change. He delivered, but in a very unexpected way. Many observers were hopeful that the inauguration of Luiz Inacio da Silva as President of Brazil would usher in a new, modern, and socially just era of Brazilian politics. His personal history of labor militancy and his party’s reputation for disciplined, progressive, and clean governance suggested a dramatic departure from Brazilian …

Peru—The “Outsider” Syndrome: The 2006 Presidential Election

Every presidential election in Peru since 1990 has been marked by forces outside the realm of the predictable. Those forces catapulted Alberto Fujimori (1990) and Alejandro Toledo (2000/2001) to power, and have made Ollanta Humala the central figure in the current presidential campaign (he won 31 percent of the vote in the first round of the elections on April 9th). The spectacular rise of Humala, a nationalist former army officer, in …

Feature Article: The Challenges of Democratic Consolidation in Mexico

Six years ago, Mexico faced a turning point in its political history. After more than 70 years of one-party rule at the federal level, an opposition candidate, Vicente Fox, won the presidential election, a clear outcome that was readily accepted by all political actors. The challenge for the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) at the time was to conduct free and fair elections, and Mexico’s citizen-directed institution lived up to these high …

Ambivalence in the Tropics: The 2006 Elections in Costa Rica

After weeks of sitting on the edge of their seats, election junkies learned in early March that 1987 Nobel Laureate Oscar Arias won the 2006 election by a margin of less than 1.12 percent. The election was close enough that the Supreme Tribunal of Elections spent more than 3 weeks manually recounting all of the ballots. That Arias did not trounce his opponents came as a shock. In the weeks before election day, polls indicated that …

Constitutional Reform in Bolivia: The 2005 Presidential Election

In the weeks leading up to the December 18, 2005 presidential elections in Bolivia, most observers in the United States viewed Evo Morales with dread. An Aymara labor leader with coca field roots, Morales’s campaign had accepted money from Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. This may have emboldened Morales’ supporters, but it hurt his image in Washington D.C. Worse, the would-be president spoke openly about nationalizing …

Bachelet’s Election in Chile The 2006 Presidential Contest

Although Michelle Bachelet’s presidential election victory has understandably made news as she has become the first woman president in Chile (and the first woman who is not the widow of an important political leader to be elected in Latin America), the fact that she represents the longest ruling coalition in the country’s history sheds more light into recent political developments in the most successful economy in Latin America. Because …

Consolidating Kirchner’s Control: The 2005 Elections in Argentina

President Néstor Kirchner assumed office on may 25, 2003 in a position of noteworthy weakness. Kirchner had “won” the presidential election only after former president Carlos Menem (1989-99), who on April 27 took the first round with 25 percent of the vote to Kirchner’s 22 percent share, withdrew from the May 18 runoff convinced that Kirchner would eventually defeat him by a substantial margin. To make matters worse, Kirchner …

Introduction: From Hope to Despair? Latin America’s Year of Elections

Latin American democracy is living through unprecedented times. The list of countries where political leadership is not determined through competitive elections has for many years now been limited to one case: Cuba. Between November 2005 and December 2006, electoral episodes will be cruising the region at full steam. Twelve countries will have featured presidential contests: Mexico, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, …

Editor’s Letter: Democracy and Elections in 2006

A quarter century ago, ReVista could not have published a special issue devoted to analyzing open and competitive elections in Latin America. ReVista did not exist then (it was founded in 2000), but even if it had existed, an elections issue would have excluded most of the region. Only Costa Rica and Venezuela were still holding regular, peaceful democratic elections. Military dictatorships, civilian-led authoritarian regimes, and internal …

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