A voter in Mexico. (AP)

A voter in Mexico. (AP)


Brian Winter on International IDEA's Podcast about State of Democracy in Latin America

By Kevin Casas-Zamora

"The big picture message is that continuity is back," said AS/COA's vice president to the organization's secretary-general.

Kevin Casas Zamora, International IDEA's secretary-general, interviewed AS/COA Vice President and Americas Quarterly Editor-in Chief Brian Winter regarding the state of democracy in Latin America, the United States, the region's elections, and the future of Latin American politics.

Zamora started the interview by introducing Winter and AQ to its audience. "Americas Quarterly over the past few years has really become one of the of the best sources of serious analysis on Latin American politics and U.S. Latin American relations that are out there," said the secretary-general.

This has been an election year for six Latin American countries—four of them have already elected their leaders and two are about to go to the polls. When asked about any trends in these elections so far, Winter responded: "The big picture message is that continuity is back after really a five year window where incumbents lost almost every election in Latin America."

Zamora asked Winter about the current political situation in Brazil, El Salvador, Mexico, and Venezuela. When asked about Mexico's election result, Winter said that "everyone ... expected Claudia Sheinbaum to win. No one expected Claudia Sheinbaum to win by 30 points," which highlights that voters feel like the Morena party is meeting their "basic needs."

When asked about Brazil, Winter expressed that he does believe that a sense of normalcy in Brazilian politics has returned after threats to democracy. Venezuela, on the other hand, is holding an election that seems "to be neither free nor fair," but after recent developments there seems to be "some small possibility that this ends in a democratic transition," said Winter.

Zamora then focused on El Salvador, which reelected Nayib Bukele for a second term earlier this year, and asked Winter if the "Bukele" approach could be adopted by other countries in the region. Winter explained that it could depend on the context, but that "there is no one else in the region yet who has really won on a 'I'm going to be Bukele' message."

Another topic discussed during the interview was the future of Latin America-U.S. relations. Winter stated the "consequences" of this election for the region are "real." The expert outlined the hypothetical arrangements both potential administrations could have with the region, stating that "democracy is less important" for Trump given that other issues such as migration and drug trafficking could be of more relevance.

Finally, Winter expressed that despite the region's issues, he is still optimistic about Latin America. "My hope ... is that we will see democratically minded leaders who realize the urgency of the moment and the need to not maintain the status quo, but to deliver in some of these areas."

Listen to the full episode.