350 Million Latin American Voters to Elect New Leaders in 2018

By Elliot Bullman

Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela, Costa Rica and Paraguay will elect new presidents in what could be a popular reaction against corruption.

Some 350 million voters are due to head to the polls in Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela,Costa Ricaand Paraguay to elect new presidents – and in several cases, potentially slam a defibrillator into their ailing political systems.

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Seizing the headlines in July will be Mexico, where Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the perennial candidate of the left, will face off against José Antonio Meade, the technocratic successor toEnrique Peña Nieto.

Brazil’s Michel Temer, the rightwing 77-year-old career politician who replaced Dilma Rousseff in last year’s controversial impeachment –has seen his approval ratings drop as low as 3%amidwidespread allegations of corruption, which have at times seemed to implicate Brazil’s entire political class.

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In neighbouring Venezuela, if allowed a free and fair ballot, voters will likely opt for change. But a divided opposition to embattled Nicolas Maduro has failed to convince enough people that it is a better proposal than hyperinflation, shortages of basic goods, and rampant crime.

Bolivia’s Evo Morales will probably press ahead with his plans to run for a fourth term in 2019 after compliant judgesscrappedterm limits. Here too, voters are increasingly disappointed with the incumbent, but have yet to find a viable alternative.

Honduras could see greater turmoil after its December presidential election was marred by serious allegations of fraud by the rightwing incumbent, Juan Orlando Hernández. The Cuban leader, Raúl Castro, will step down, but his departure is unlikely to bring political or economic change.

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Even normally staid Chile faces an uncertain panorama. The centre-right businessman and former president Sebastian Piñera won December’s presidential election having suggested expelling all undocumented immigrants and played on fears of Venezuela-style chaos should his centre-left rival have won.

Yet for most people in Latin America, electoral politics will be low down on a long list of concerns. Across the region, economies will remain sluggish, jobs scarce and pay low.

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