In the past year, center-right candidates were elected president in Argentina and Peru. In Brazil, a leftist president was impeached and sent home.
It was not a banner day for Latin America’s leftists.
Colombia rejected a peace deal with Marxist rebels on Sunday, delivering a very public victory to the conservative former president who campaigned passionately against it. On the same day, voters in Brazil handed a resounding defeat to the leftist party that once controlled their country, knocking it down in municipal elections.
It was just another sign of the shift to the right in Latin America. In less than a year, voters have thwarted the leftist movement in Argentina and elected a former investment banker as president of Peru, while lawmakers impeached the leftist leader of Brazil.
“Put simply, conservatives are on the rise in Latin America,” said Matías Spektor, a professor of international relations at Fundação Getúlio Vargas, a university in Brazil.
So why is the left losing?
The first is economics, such as the the drop in commodities prices and oil. In other words, you can’t pay for the same welfare state or provide as many government jobs when the price of oil is $50 a barrel rather than $150.
The second is fascinating, as Romero wrote:
The clout of evangelical Christian megachurches is expanding, and they are confronting socially liberal policies and channeling widespread dissatisfaction with the status quo.
Third, the growing middle class in Latin America is sick and tired of paying taxes and not seen roads built. As a friend told me: “Donde estan los puentes” or “where are the bridges”? In other words, you pay taxes but no one is building the bridges promised in the election.
Last, but not least, the lefties turned out to be a corrupt bunch: Lula da Silva in Brazil and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in Argentina. They don’t come any more corrupt than those two and both are facing inquiries.
So the near term looks good for politicians who preach free market ideas in Latin America. Of course, this is assuming that they stay free of corruption. Otherwise, they will join the lefties out of power.