In the early 2000s, many Latin American countries witnessed the emergence of leaders and parties of the political left, in its many variants. This group combined a commitment to expansive social policies to redress long-standing inequalities and a more active government with adherence to electoral democracy. Much of the media dubbed this the “pink tide” of Latin America, to distinguish it from the communist-inspired movements of the Cold War era.
These new forces rose to power as a product of citizens’ dissatisfaction with previous governments. At the turn of the century, Latin Americans were demanding change and a renewed emphasis on social policy – such as anti-poverty measures and more access to public services – after years of neglect by traditional political parties. Leftist political movements were also reinforced by increasing anti-Americanism in the region, fueled by what was widely perceived as an imperialistic and aggressive U.S. foreign policy after September 11, 2001.
In an environment of slower growth and reduced fiscal space, implementing effective social policies will be a major challenge for countries in Latin America. How can governments redesign social protection systems?
On Oct. 20, Bolivian President Evo Morales will go to the polls in search of a fourth term. Victory would extend his time in office to almost two decades, and — depending on how the election goes — could place democracy itself at risk in the Andean country.