The Americas

Latin America losing faith in democracy 11-10-18

Source - Economist, November 10, 2018: "Latin Americans are dejected about democracy"     

The 2018 Latinobarometro poll shows faith in democracy declining across Latin America, driven by the perception that almost all politician are corrupt. Lack of faith in their political institutions makes Latin American countries vulnerable to populist, illiberal candidates. 

Old Age Dependency

The Latinobarometro results: in 2009, 51% of those surveyed reported feeling dissatisfied with democracy in their country. By 2018, that number has increased to 71%. Note that more than half still rate democracy as superior to any other form of government.

What is driving this negativity? First, Latin American economies have slowed down, with GDP per person declining overall since 2009. Crime is a big worry (even amongst countries like Chile where crime is not really a problem). And there is the widespread belief that income is unjustly distributed (even though the Gini coefficient for Latin America has been decreasing). The biggest influence on the growing distrust in democracy is probably the widespread belief that most politicians and judges are corrupt. Lack of faith in democratic institutions translated to a distrust of democracy itself. 

  The danger is that widespread lack of faith in democracy can lead to the election of extremist leaders outside the mainstream - populists who may fall prey to illiberal tendencies. In Latin America, two recent examples would be AMLO in Mexico and Bolsonaro in Brazil.