Scholars view democracy as a regime where rulers are elected on systems that allow for ideological alternation. Competition in which voters can decide upon different platforms means that, at least in theory, governments are accountable. Latin America is a region with a varied record on established and functional democracy. In the last ten years, many countries have swayed from left to right-wing parties and back again. How effective has political alternation been in satisfying the populations’ demands to their government?
Supposedly, pressure and corruption and inequality have pushed governments out of office. Mexico’s President, elected last year on a strong vow to end corruption, marks one of the exemplary changes from right to left win parties in the region. Mexican voters decided to end 18 years of right and centre-right governments that had proven incapable of eliminating corruption, inequality and violence. Thought the term is still not over, the President has yet to deliver the promised transformation.
Argentina has recently done left to right to left transition. In 2015, Mauricio Macri was elected president as the majority of Argentinians seemed unhappy with the leftist rule of Christina Fernández de Kircher. During Macri’s presidency, the former government was investigated on charges of corruption and Fernández de Kirchner still awaits to stand trial.
Nonetheless, she ran as vice president to Alberto Fernández as they got elected in the country’s elections of October 2019. The voters’ anger with the left’s corruption may have removed them from power in 2015 but Macri’s liberalist policies failed to address rising inflation and seem to have made people overlook Kirchner’s corruption charges.
Another country may be at risk of repeating the story. Currently, Brazil has a far-right government elected after the corruption scandals of the leftist-led by Lula da Silva, Dilma Rousseff and Michel Temer. Now da Silva has been released from prison and has promised to end the far-right’s rule. There is still doubt whether the politician will be able to return to power but Brazilians will have the choice in 2022 to alternate political platforms again.
Thought alternation seems to be failing to address to populations’ demands for effective action, lack thereof is also sparking demands, as Bolivia’s protests have shown. Change in government through elections remains an accountability method and is certainly better than dictatorships or quasi-dictatorships. However, the region is still lacking a way to face corruption and get better policies using democratic tools.