Ben Raderstorf was a non-resident fellow and program associate with the Peter D. Bell Rule of Law Program at the Inter-American Dialogue. Previously he worked on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. He is a graduate of the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California Berkeley and Harvard University. His writing focuses on politics, the rule of law, and political representation, including issues of campaign finance, electoral institutions, corruption, freedom of expression, disinformation, and democratic norms. Raderstorf has been published in The New York Times, Foreign Affairs,Slate, World Politics Review, and the New York Daily News and is a regular contributor to the Dialogue’s Voces blog.
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.
Over the past two weeks, Spain has become an accidental protagonist in the diplomatic efforts to end Venezuela’s crises. The good news is that Spain is well-positioned to lead the effort to restore democracy in Venezuela. The bad news is that the Spanish government is deeply conflicted about what to do. But there are five clear ways that Spain can demonstrate that the democratic cause in Venezuela is not just a guise for U.S. adventurism.
Peru’s inclination to growth over institutionalization could be seen as a sort of libertarian experiment—getting the state out of the way in a country where economic mismanagement has more than once led to disaster. But, while in the short term Peru has defied research that shows that institutional factors—such as corruption, bureaucratic inefficiency, and lack of trust and satisfaction in government—are consistent structural obstacles to prosperity, cracks are beginning to show.
Although compulsory voting increases voter turnout, it also raises questions on democratic freedom. There is a certain discomfort on the obligatory part of it. It’s the worrying idea that you can fine someone for not participating in the democratic process, it feels regressive, a tax on people with fewer resources, or less ability to engage.
Submitting a blank or spoiled vote is an indicator in and of itself, especially in polarizing elections. Not voting at all doesn’t capture that in the same way – it’s easy to dismiss not voting as apathy, whereas [a blank or spoiled vote] is a clear sign of voter discontent against the system.