In the new century, Latin American politics started with a “pink wave”. Since Chávez was elected president of Venezuela in 1998, left-wingers in Latin America have entered the political arena one after another, setting off a “pink wave” of left-wing collective governance. This “wave” has continued until around 2016. In 2016, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was impeached by the parliament, and the left-wing Labor Party government ended nearly 14 years in power in Brazil, and Brazil’s political direction began to turn to the right. Affected by this, the political winds of Brazil’s neighboring countries such as Peru and Chile have also begun to turn right. However, the left-wing forces in Latin America have not died down. After two years of dormancy, in 2018, Mexico’s left-wing political party, the National Renaissance Party, won the general election; in 2019, Fernandez, a candidate for the Argentine left-wing alliance “National Front”, was elected president. From 2020 to 2022, as left-wing parties successively won the general elections in Bolivia, Peru, Nicaragua, Honduras, Chile, Colombia and other countries, the countries dominated by the left will regain the majority in Latin America. The victory of former Brazilian president and left-wing Labor Party candidate Lula in the 2022 Brazilian general election has undoubtedly played a role in “fixing” the overall left turn in Latin America, but it has also released some “changing” signals.
Latin America Returns to Left Collective Governance
2021-2022 is the “super election cycle” in Latin America. A total of more than ten countries have held local or national elections, and eight of them have held presidential elections. Therefore, this period is also an important node for observing the evolution of Latin America’s political ecology. . In 2021, five countries in Latin America will hold presidential elections, four of which will be won by the left. In 2022, there will be three countries in Latin America holding presidential elections, and two of them will be won by the left wing. The advantage of the left wing forces is still obvious. In particular, Colombia, which has been ruled by the right for a long time, achieved a historic “left turn” in 2022, and the return of Lula in the Brazilian general election has ended the trend of Brazil’s right turn, breaking Brazil’s recent 30-year “presidential streak”. re-election” rule. The political left turn in Colombia and Brazil fully demonstrates that the left has a comparative advantage in the political preferences of Latin American voters. After two years of political adjustment, the Latin American region has returned to the situation of left-wing collective governance, and its scale even surpassed the “pink wave” at the beginning of the new century.
Lula’s return is a strong representative of this round of Latin American left-wing tide. On the one hand, Lula is a representative figure of the Latin American left. He not only participated in the founding of Brazil’s largest left-wing political party, the Labor Party, in 1980, but also promoted the creation of the Sao Paulo Forum, a dialogue platform for Latin American left-wing political parties and organizations in 1990. He is also a new The iconic figure of Latin America’s “pink wave” at the beginning of the century. Therefore, Lula’s return to a certain extent reflects the strong vitality of the Latin American left wing, or in other words, the return of the left wing has a certain inevitability in Latin America. On the other hand, Lula and some other Latin American left-wing representatives have experienced a low point due to corruption-related issues. Lula even served 580 days in prison for corruption-related issues, but he was able to win the presidency again within a year after he regained his “freedom” The election, which fully reflects three complex social sentiments in Brazil: that is, the public’s rejection of the Labor Party has subsided, dissatisfaction with the Bolsonaro government’s governance of the country has become the mainstream, and dissatisfaction with the Labor Party’s administration. Nostalgia for the boom is growing. Lula’s return will make the left turn in Latin American politics more stable. At present, the top six economies in Latin America (Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Peru) are all governed by the left.
If the “pink wave” at the beginning of the new century reflects the reflection and criticism of the people of Latin American countries on the disadvantages of neoliberalism, the Latin American left-wing governments, either from the ideological level or from the policy level, aim at alternatives to the neoliberal development model. The reappearance of the new “pink wave” collectively reflects the disappointment of the people of Latin American countries with the inefficiency of national governance in recent years, especially the collective ineffectiveness of the country’s response to the new crown epidemic. However, although the scale of this round of left-wing collective governance may be larger than that at the beginning of the new century, the depth of political ecological adjustment is not as deep as that of the previous “pink wave”. It is not a question of development model selection.
The return of the left wing does not mean the complete ebb of the right wing
As mentioned earlier, judging from the results of the 2022 Brazilian presidential election, Brazil’s left turn is in line with the general trend of Latin American political ecology. There is a possibility of “changes” in politics.
First, political polarization is increasing and there is no room for a “third way”. The 2022 general election is the most competitive in Brazil in the past 30 years, which is reflected in the pre-election polls and the results of the first round of voting. Bolsonaro trailed Lula by just 5 percentage points in the first round of voting, the smallest gap since Brazil returned to democratic elections in 1989. In addition, the opposition rates of Lula and Bolsonaro are both relatively high, and the gap is not big–Bolsonaro’s opposition rate was 51% in early October, and Lula’s opposition rate was as high as 46%, which fully reflects the voters’ opposition rate. Political positions are extremely antagonistic and exclusionary. At the same time, votes in this election were prematurely concentrated on the two core candidates, which also reflected the high degree of political polarization in Brazil, and the recognition of the “third way” and “middle way” in Brazil has declined. In the first round of voting, Lula and Bolsonaro received a combined 92% of the vote, while the third-placed candidate, Simone Thibet, received only 4%, which is very rare in previous elections. Rare situation. In fact, the problem of political polarization also exists in other Latin American countries. In the presidential elections of Ecuador and Peru in 2021, the gap between the top two candidates is only 5% and 0.25%; in the presidential elections of Costa Rica and Colombia in 2022, the gap between the top two candidates Also only 6% and 3% respectively. It can be predicted that the issue of political polarization will be the main feature of Latin American politics. If viewed from the perspective of new trends in global political changes, the problem of political polarization in Latin American countries may further intensify.
On November 2, 2022, supporters of Brazil’s current President Jair Bolsonaro held a demonstration to protest the election results.
Second, the return of the left does not mean the complete ebb of the right. Although Bolsonaro was defeated in the general election, he won 49.1% of the votes. It cannot be said that the right wing he represents has completely lost. Considering that the positions of the left and right factions are completely opposite, after the Brazilian general election, it will take a long time for the sentiment of Bolsonaro supporters to gradually subside. This basically determines that Lula will start to power with an opposition rate close to 50%. In other words, although Lula won, it is hard to say that the left has an advantage in Brazil’s current political atmosphere. For example, in the second round of the presidential election, Lula won 13 states, while Bolsonaro won 14 states. Compared with the state capitals with the highest concentration of population, Bolsonaro won the majority of votes in 16 state capitals, while Lula only won 11 state capitals. In the parliamentary elections, Bolsonaro’s Liberal Party became the largest party in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, and it is also the party with the largest increase in seats after the elections in both houses. If other political parties in the Bolsonaro campaigning coalition are included, the Bolsonaro campaigning coalition has 25 seats in the Senate and 194 seats in the House of Representatives, both of which exceed the total seats of the Lula campaigning coalition in the Senate and House of Representatives ( 16 seats and 144 seats). It can be seen that although the right wing lost the presidential election, it gained an advantage in the parliamentary election. This also shows that the Brazilian right wing has not ebbed, but has gained room to gain momentum and expand its power. Due to the inconsistency of the political attributes reflected in the executive and legislative elections, the relationship between the government and the House of Representatives will become more complicated in the future, and there may even be a possibility of a balance of power. This will directly pose a huge challenge to Lula’s ruling in the next four years, and even directly impact the political situation. of stability. In fact, during the 13 years (2003-2016) when the Brazilian Labor Party was in power, the Labor Party’s coordination work in the parliament was not successful. Monthly fee case” (to win the support of parliamentarians through bribery), while Rousseff was eventually impeached by parliament in 2016 for violating the fiscal responsibility law.
Confrontation between government and court is a common problem faced by Latin American left-wing governments in the new “pink wave” cycle. In Peru, the center-left ruling party, the Liberal Peruvian Party, holds only 37 seats in the 130-seat Congress, while the main center-right parties (Popular Force Party, Alliance for Progress) have a combined 40 seats; in Argentina, the center-left party is in power The coalition won only 31% of the vote in the mid-term elections, while the center-right coalition of former President Macri won 40% of the vote; There is a lot of restraint; in the 128 seats in the Honduras parliament, the left-wing ruling party, the Liberty and Reconstruction Party, only holds 50 seats, while the two right-wing parties (the Nationalist Party and the Liberal Party) have 66 seats. It can be seen from this that the current left-right power game in Latin American politics is in a balance, which is fundamentally different from the absolute dominance of the left wing at the beginning of the new century. Contradictions between the government and the court have brought huge obstacles to left-wing governance in Latin America. For example, Peruvian left-wing President Castillo is currently facing successive impeachment motions in parliament.
Third, the “anti-establishment right” forces have become an important factor affecting the “rain or shine” of Latin American politics. Bolsonaro is a representative figure of the “anti-establishment right” in Brazil. His rise has completely changed the power structure of Brazilian political parties, especially greatly squeezing the mass base of the center-right parties, making the election atmosphere change from the previous “inclusive competition”. Transformed into “exclusive opposition”. In addition, Bolsonaro has a strong influence on the political atmosphere of the entire Latin American region. The most representative event is that Bolsonaro introduced the US Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) into Latin America in 2019, and developed it into a dialogue forum for Latin American right-wing conservative forces, forming a dialogue with the Latin American left-wing “São Paulo Forum”. direct opposition. CPAC has convened twice in Brazil over the past four years, drawing participation from Latin American conservative representatives, most notably Chile’s Castor and Argentina’s Mire. The former lost to Boric by a narrow margin in the 2021 Chilean general election, and the latter may become the “dark horse” in the 2023 Argentine general election. In addition, Hernandez, who was defeated in the Colombian election in 2022, and Aliaga, the newly elected mayor of Lima, Peru, also belong to the “anti-establishment right”. They all oppose globalization and the current political system to varying degrees. , Advocating “conspiracy theories” and good at inciting nationalist sentiments. In addition, Bolsonaro’s strength in Brazil’s general election (winning in 2018 and losing with a small number of votes in 2022) may have a demonstration effect in Latin America, and this force will also have an important impact on the political ecology of Latin America. , and may even have a huge impact on Latin American political systems and democratic governance.
How the new ‘pink wave’ can last
The continuous tearing of society, the intensification of political polarization, the rising tension between the government and courts, the continued economic downturn, and the deterioration of poverty are all realistic challenges faced by the Latin American left in collective governance. The effectiveness of its governance is not only related to The stability of their governance will also determine the length of the new “pink wave” cycle in Latin America.
Overall, the possible policy options for the left in Latin America include the following four aspects: first, to strive for a broad political consensus, especially efforts to bridge the antagonism and hatred between the parties; second, to strive for internal and external favorable factors that promote economic growth and ensure that Domestic macroeconomic stability and broadening international cooperation will be two parallel ideas; third, promote regional integration, strengthen regional collective identity, and enhance the strategic autonomy of the region in the increasingly fierce competition among major powers; fourth, give priority to South-South Collaborate and build an extensive partner network.
On November 14, 2021, members of the Argentine right-wing opposition alliance “Coalition for Change” celebrate in the capital Buenos Aires that the alliance won legislative elections in the country’s main regions.
The return of Lula, who has the unanimous support of all left-wing governments in the region, has consolidated the new “pink wave” in Latin America. In his victory declaration, Lula emphasized that he shouldered the responsibility of “rebuilding Brazil”; and for the Latin American left, Lula actually also shouldered the mission of “reviving the Latin American left.” In the face of many practical challenges, the Latin American left, represented by Lula, must not only uphold the concept of progress, make good use of the effective experience of the left in power in the previous cycle, but also assess the situation, seek policy innovations in the face of internal and external changes, and effectively solve the problems of Latin American countries. Only in this way can the momentum of the new “pink wave” in Latin America be consolidated and maintained.