On March 24, Ecuadorians will vote in subnational elections that will set the stage for presidential and legislative elections in 2021. The 2019 results will determine whether Ecuador will remain a key American ally in a volatile hemisphere or return to its past.
Famously lauded as an exception to trends of overall political instability in Central America, Costa Rica has presented an enduring model of socially democratic peace for the region. The country is the area’s longest-standing democracy since it famously decided to abolish its military under the 1949 Constitution to invest in social services such as universal education and healthcare. Since then, it has come to be seen as a landmark of environmental stewardship, a beacon of prosperity to neighboring immigrants, and – with its Pura Vida (pure life) mentality – one of the happiest countries on earth. It is because of this tradition of remarkable democracy, peace, and social wellbeing that many have referred to Costa Rica as politically exceptional, especially in comparison to its neighbors’ history of civil unrest.
But the country’s recent history reveals quite the opposite. In recent years, Costa Rica has become just as prone to divisive political and economic trends as the rest of the world.
Russian president Vladimir Putin claimed reelection victory on March 18 in unsurprising results for a noncompetitive election. Official numbers credit him with over 75% of the vote, easily securing the autocrat another six years in office. This recent victory essentially guarantees that Putin with oversee the country for a total of 25 years, making him the only other Russian leader to rule for more than two decades besides dictator Joseph Stalin.
With several unviable opponents, Moscow attempted to increase turnout to indicate the legitimacy of its ‘democracy’ to the outside world. Get-out-the-vote campaigns included selfie competition raffles for iPhones and cars. Hard-to-find food products were placed as incentives for voting at polling places. Bosses threatened termination if employees abstained from voting. And it may have worked: turnout increased from 65% in the 2012 elections to 70% in 2018. At the same time, Golos, an independent election monitoring group, has cited multiple counts of election fraud, including ballot stuffing and blocking security cameras. Nonetheless, the Russian Election Commission has declared the polls valid.
Regardless, the real controversies are not necessarily the conditions of this election, but the upcoming one. …
Thousands have taken to the streets of Rio de Janeiro to mourn Marielle Franco, a 38 year old City Councilor who campaigned against police brutality. She was shot dead returning from a black women’s empowerment event Wednesday. A former resident of Favela de Mare, one of Rio’s most violent slums, Ms. Franco was known for heavily criticizing President Michel Temer’s decision to deploy military forces to Brazil’s favelas to decrease violent crimes. His policy was announced in February after it was revealed the country experienced 2,125 violent deaths in the past year.
Germany’s center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) voted Sunday to form a coalition government with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), ending months of uncertainty after an indecisive September election. The decision secures Merkel a fourth term, avoiding the possibility of governing without a majority or facing another election. While pro-European leaders and businesspeople heralded the decision as good for the continent, both voters and party members are unhappy at the loveless Grand Coalition (GroKo).
On Sunday, French citizens headed to the polls to select the new Republican Presidential Candidate in a primary runoff, the winner of which is set to take on far-right National Front candidate Marine Le Pen in April. After Francois Fillon won last week’s primary, barring former President Nicolas Sarkozy from the race, polls show he is set to win again. His socially conservative platform, including anti-abortion, anti gay marriage, and restrictive immigration proposals, stand in contrast to centrist opponent Alain Juppe, who denies the need for such “brutal” laws.
Amid political uncertainty and a deepening recession, economic growth is seen as the “key” to reform and prosperity in Brazil.
“If we fail economic growth, all the other scenarios would be a disaster,” said Ricardo Sennes, a nonresident senior Brazil fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center. “Not just disaster in the economic sense, but also political disaster with strong social disorder etc.”
Sennes spoke at an event at the Atlantic Council on June 6. He is the co-author of a new issue brief, “The Path to Power in Brazil,” along with Andrea Murta, an associate director in the Council’s Latin America Center. Sennes was joined in a panel discussion by Ciro Gomes, a former Brazilian presidential candidate, and Mauricio Moura, a pollster with Ideia Inteligencia. Peter Schechter, director of the Council’s Latin America Center, moderated the discussion.
Since winning the national elections last December, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made waves as the fresh new face of Canadian politics. At 44, the son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau bolstered Canada’s international image and popularity, leading to a political honeymoon with the promise of reform and a charismatic young leader. The celebration is only heightened when juxtaposed with the near decade-long reign of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper. However, this liberal wave, hailed as a potential second Trudeaumania (the term used to describe Pierre Trudeau’s surge in popularity upon his election), proved to be more substantive than empty promises and charm from a relatively inexperienced politician. In his first 100 days in office, the Prime Minister made progress on the 214 promises made during the campaign cycle, demonstrating that Trudeau is an effective foil to his Conservative predecessor.