Latin America: A Conservative Restoration?
Publisher: Against the Current
Date Written: 01/05/2017
Year Published: 2017
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX21591
After a decade of the left's near-hegemonic control over government structures throughout Latin America, previously discredited conservative politicians who favour a return to the capitalist neoliberal polices of privatization and austerity are staging a comeback.
The conservative victory in Argentina in November 2015 can be understood as a result of the weakness of the nominally leftist candidacy of Daniel Scioli, the failures of his previous administration as governor of the province of Buenos Aires, divisions on the left with many supporting instead the insurgent candidacy of the more radical Sergio Massa, the personalist nature and campaign style of Macri, an antagonistic media campaign against the Kirchner governments, not to mention objective conditions of rising inflation that undermined economic growth. In an electoral system, an effective campaign and the personal appeal of a candidate can play a larger role in determining an outcome than a political ideology or specific economic programs.
Similarly in Venezuela, high crime rates, low oil prices, bad government economic policies, corruption, and the fact that Maduro was significantly less charismatic than Chávez all augmented the left's legislative defeat in December 2015 and contributed to a growing movement for his recall.
Many voted against the government not because they favored a return to the old regime but because they wanted officials to pay more attention to a rapidly declining economic situation. In Brazil, Rousseff's impeachment also emerged in the context of an economic recession resulting from the collapse of a commodity boom that had sustained high government expenditure rates. As with Maduro, Rousseff lacked the charismatic appeal of her predecessor Lula da Silva.