Volatile times ahead in region as popular expectations remain high
The commodity supercycle ended and in the Americas the political repercussions have followed swiftly. Almost everywhere, the status quo is being upended. Citizens are agitating for change. Their ends are sometimes revolutionary.
In Argentina, pro-business presidential candidate Mauricio Macri may well end 12 years of populist rule at an electoral run-off on November 22. In Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, elected president last year, is now the most unpopular leader in national history, while her Workers Party is in disgrace.
In Venezuela, the long-ruling socialist party will likely be trounced in December’s mid-terms; the only question is by how much. In Guatemala, a television comedian with no political experience has been elected president while his predecessor has been indicted for corruption.
The list of political reversals goes on. Nor is this only a Latin phenomenon: it extends to Anglo-Saxon commodity countries in the hemisphere, too.
Stephen Harper, Canada’s prime minister, was toppled from office last month. Like his Latin counterparts, Mr Harper had happily ridden the commodity super-cycle. During his election campaign, he imagined a fourth term. Instead, voters swung against his divisive “prairie conservatism” and unexpectedly chose the inexperienced social democrat Justin Trudeau instead.
What is going on? Are there common themes linking these events?
In South America, it seems that voters have grown tired of a decade of mostly leftist rule, the so-called “pink tide”, and are now moving back to the centre. But in Canada the pendulum has swung the other way. That suggests more complex underlying reasons.
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