Latin America’s Big Election Year

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Feb 28, 4:12 PM |

By Sam Aman

In 2018, six major Latin American countries will be going to the polls to elect new leaders, and the uncertainty has some people worried.

Before we panic over the potential political risks, argues Altamar co-host Peter Schechter, let’s take stock of some of the positive regional trends which tend not to get as much coverage.

Writing in BRINK, a publication of the Atlantic, Schechter argues that while preoccupation with a populist backlash is not unwarranted, the political risk is exaggerated. One of the most positive trends is the region’s rising expectations of accountability we are seeing in the anti-corruption fight.

Outrage over corruption is helping to drive a noticeable decline in public trust in democracy. A mere 30 percent of Latin America’s electorate today claims to be “satisfied with democracy,” and in Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia, that number is under 20 percent. Against that worrying backdrop, doomsday predictions are understandable.

But thankfully, a closer look at the upcoming races suggests that not every fire alarm turns into an out-of-control blaze. Investors, bankers and traders may continue to find happy homes in the region. (…)

2018 will not be a tranquil year for Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, or the region at large. But, market conditions for commodities and manufactures are up—and this will only strengthen Latin economies in the coming years. The growing middle-class market, which now makes up the bulk of 565 million Latin Americans, means that this region will be an accelerating opportunity for global business.

Indeed, as we witness the painful demise of the political center in the United States and Europe, let’s hold off on apocalyptic projections for Latin America. The region may just teach us all a lesson this year.

Read the full article here.

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About the Hosts

Peter Schechter works in both politics and policy. He served as the Atlantic Council’s senior vice president for strategic initiatives and previously co-founded a premier strategic communications company, working as a political campaign advisor in more than 20 countries.  Muni Jensen is a former Colombian diplomat, columnist, and television political commentator.