Democracy in the world, according to a recently published study by the The Economist Intelligence Unit, is up for auction. Although the deterioration is widespread worldwide, Latin American countries are clearly experiencing a setback.
When the values for 2021 are compared with those of two years ago with the Democratic Index published by this institution, only Uruguay progresses. The slippage is greater than 0.50 (on a scale of zero to ten) in seven countries: Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Venezuela.
In Paraguay and El Salvador, the reduction is 0.38 and 0.43, respectively. As a result, half of the countries in the region saw the performance of the dimensions that make up the aforementioned index relating to elections and pluralism, functioning of government, political participation, political culture and civil liberties jeopardized.
It is well known that representative democracy has a proof of maturity in its ability to ensure that the opposition has an adequate level of certainty of being a government at some point.
In terms of probabilities, this means that, ideally, this situation should occur once in two, giving a 50% probability. As it is a probabilistic question, this ideal level would be reached as there are more occasions (elections).
In the eighteen Latin American countries that are generally taken into account, from 1978 to the present, 150 presidential elections were held in which the outgoing government could validate its situation, a circumstance that reached in 63, that is, in 87 electoral processes a scenario was produced. alternation or what is equal to probability 0.58.
This circumstance was emphasized to highlight the establishment of democracy in the region over the last four decades.
However, it should be noted that this is an average value and that there are countries with extreme behavior, such as Nicaragua, Paraguay and Venezuela, which have a very low level of alternation, and, on the opposite side, Guatemala and Panama, with permanent alternation (1) and Ecuador and Peru with high alternation (0.75 and 0.78, respectively).
This scenario has changed dramatically in the last four years. In fact, if we consider the last presidential elections held in 16 countries (I leave Nicaragua and Venezuela out of consideration for having held elections that cannot be homologated in democratic terms) there was only no alternation in Bolivia, since the MAS won the elections after the government interim, and in Paraguay, where the Colorado party won the presidential elections again.
The fact that the formations in power were unable to remain in power and that the door was opened for opposition forces can be explained by the cost that governments had to pay for managing the pandemic, blamed on populations exhausted by the economic deterioration. which increased impoverishment and inequality, the psychological wear and tear generated as a result of uncertainty and the often bad communicative policy ravaged by a gigantic wave of disinformation.
However, there are factors gestated within each country that had a not to be disrespected impact when it comes to bringing about change against the outgoing government.
These have similar common denominators that for a long time have not failed to show a clear situation of fatigue derived from the existing combination between the malaise in the citizenry and the crisis of political representation that continues to deepen.
There is ample evidence to link the malaise with four aspects: inequality, corruption and violence, which have deteriorated enormously, to which we must add the frustration of expectations.
As for the crisis of representation, it focuses on the hyper-personalism of politics at the height of the changes that have taken place in societies in the last two decades.
The political struggle, within institutional frameworks defined by presidentialism, has been deriving from the empowerment of candidacies supported by parties that are only acronyms with a very low level of militancy, a programmatic proposal that is articulated in half a dozen hollow phrases and an organizational structure reduced to levels that bases its strategy on electoral campaigns of a digital nature, relying on artificial intelligence processes to address social networks.
In the best of situations, candidates form alliances with others in a confederal spiral to obtain greater returns in the electoral dispute.
At the present time, there are three cases that deserve attention as reflections of the above. In the Chilean presidential elections held last November, a candidate, Franco Parisi, obtained 12.8% of the votes in the first round, which gave him the third position, without setting foot in the country with a political formation of support of design and focusing his campaign completely in virtual mode.
On the other hand, in Colombia, candidate Rodolfo Hernández, whose formation that supports him is not even conceived as a political party, has 14% of the voting intention that projects him in second position and announced that his campaign will be completely virtual.
Finally, Rodrigo Chaves in Costa Rica managed to pass to the second round, which will be held on April 3, having obtained second place in the first with 16.7% and again he is a candidate supported by a marginal party that is the third in which he militates in the last three years.
The existing scenario validates a certain ease thanks to which individuals can reach power outside the traditional logic of doing so supported by institutionalized political parties and endowed with a minimum capacity to fulfill certain functions that were considered essential, such as articulating preferences or to serve as a channel for recruiting and training those who wanted to dedicate themselves to politics.
In this disguise, alternation ceases to have the meaning that was given to it before, because little by little one enters into an individualistic game so extreme that it ceases to make sense.
Representation, therefore, fragments to extreme levels, and people’s preferences are left to chance, at the very least, if not to meticulously designed projects by communication experts that accompany the personal drive for power.
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