Presidential elections in Latin America: the research for musketeers

Mauricio Moura | July 15th, 2018

 

“All for one and one for all” is the motto commonly associated with the heroes of the Three Musketeers, the novel by Alexandre Dumas published in 1844. The slogan was used by the French musketeers Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and D’Artagnan, loyal to each other despite the circumstances and evidences. But how does it relate to the presidential elections of Paraguay, Colombia and Mexico, and what it’s expected from Brazilian rallies? In many ways.

I’ll explain: Latin America has lived a long era of presidential debates centered on the economy. During decades, the keywords were “debt crisis, moratoria, inflation, high-interest rates and unemployment”. My grandmother, who passed away at 80 in 2014, has lived all these cycles and used to say: “There is inflation when the money is in your pocket but is worth nothing. There is a recession when the money is worth something but isn’t in your pocket. In Paraguay, Colombia, and Mexico, elections have shown that these words belong to the past. The economy has gained the company of two other musketeers: the fight against corruption and violence.

In Paraguay, the conservative Colorado Party, which controls the country’s politics for 70 years, suffered more than expected in the presidential elections. Its candidate, Mario Abdo Benítez, waited for hours until the end of the scrutiny watching his opponent, the liberal Efraín Alegre, getting closer, staying only four percentage points behind. His victory had as main pillars the mandatory military service for the children of single mothers, aiming to decrease violence rates and drug consumption, and the promise of radical justice reforms to reduce corruption, the endemic evil of the country. 

In Colombia, violence continues as a huge concern. Nevertheless, this time, corruption was another worry, according to local surveys. This data partly helps to understand the result. Obviously, corruption affects above all, the image of who’s in power, in this case, the president Juan Manuel Santos and his government. The winner, Iván Duque, is young (41 years), Santos’ opponent and with a brief history in politics, which allowed him to distance himself from scandals.