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A Guide to 2018 Latin American Elections

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In 2018, the three biggest countries in Latin America—Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico—will elect new presidents. But those aren’t the only ones where voters head to the ballot box in a year that could see sweeping political changes across the region.

Explore our individual guides via links below:

AS/COA is tracking the votes through articles, poll updates, podcasts, and programs. Check back regularly for new updates.

Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado (Costa Rica Foreign Ministry via AP)

Costa Rica Update: Carlos Alvarado's First 100 Days

August 15, 2018

Issues that defined the presidential campaign remain front and center in the national dialogue.

Felipe Larraín, Chilean finance minister

#PerspectivasCL Recap: Chile's Economy in the New Administration

August 09, 2018

A unified and experienced government, a strong economy, and efforts toward gender parity were all on the agenda at AS/COA’s Latin American Cities Conference in Santiago.

Video: Mexico's Future Trade Policy

August 01, 2018

From NAFTA negotiations to Chinese relations, panelists explored Mexico’s trade opportunities under incoming President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

Iván Duque wins Colombia's presidential election

Colombia Update: New Cabinet, Familiar Faces

July 26, 2018

Incoming President Iván Duque’s team features a mix of veterans and relative newcomers. 

AMLO with Kushner and Pompeo

Signals of AMLO's Future Foreign Policy for Mexico

July 25, 2018

So far, Mexico’s next president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, is looking north more than south, writes AS/COA's Carin Zissis.

Video: Expert Update on Brazil

July 25, 2018

Panelists discussed top issues ahead of the country's October elections, as well as each presidential candidate's economic platform.

Video: What an AMLO Victory Means for Mexico

July 18, 2018

Mexico's next president made major campaign pledges. A panel of experts assessed if and how he can make good on his promises.

It’s a Lula Election in Brazil. Again.

July 16, 2018

The imprisoned former president will be center stage in the Oct. 7 election – even if he’s not a candidate.

Andrés Manuel López Obrador

Viewpoint: What to Expect from AMLO's Meeting with White House Top Brass

July 11, 2018

Mexico’s future president meets with Mike Pompeo, Kirstjen Nielsen, Steven Mnuchin, and Jared Kushner this week. AS/COA’s Carin Zissis explores the meeting’s context.

5 Charts: AMLO's Wave Washes over Mexico

5 Charts: AMLO's Wave Washes over Mexico

July 05, 2018

MORENA, the party of President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador, saw sweeping wins on election day at both the state and federal level.

Mexican elections

Update: Measuring Outcomes in Mexico's Gubernatorial Races

July 05, 2018

Nine of Mexico's states held races for their top posts. The governing PRI lost all of them.

Andrés Manuel López Obrador

Viewpoint: Four Takeaways from AMLO's Victory in Mexico

July 02, 2018

The third try turned out to be the charm for Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Mexico’s next president.

AdobeStock_Onshore_oilrig_well

Mexico, Technical Rehearsals for Change

June 28, 2018

What will Andrés Manuel López Obrador's electoral victory mean for Mexico's energy sector? AS/COA's Naki Mendoza explains in About Energy.

Poll tracker graphic

Poll Tracker: Mexico's 2018 Presidential Election

June 27, 2018

We monitor the findings of some of Mexico's main pollsters to see how candidates are faring ahead of the July 1 vote.

Andrés Manuel López Obrador

J.P. Morgan Podcast: AS/COA's Susan Segal on Mexico's Presidential Election

June 27, 2018

AS/COA's CEO and president spoke with J.P. Morgan about what investors think about Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the frontrunner in Mexico's election.

A Colombian voter checks the rolls in the Usaquén neighborhood of Bogotá on June 17.

Where Does Colombia's Center Go from Here?

June 22, 2018

During Colombia’s June 17 presidential runoff, voters in Bogotá tell us about their choices and expectations for the next four years.

Mexican students at the National Library (Image: Carin Zissis)

LatAm in Focus: Millennials' Big Role in the Mexican Elections

June 26, 2018

Nación321’s Pancho Parra talks about why the youngest voters back the oldest candidate and their expectations for the future.

Sebastián Piñera, president of Chile. (Photo: Alex Ibañez)

Chile Update: Piñera's First 100 Days in Office

June 19, 2018

Where does the second-time president stand when it comes to campaign promises?

Q&A with Adriana La Rotta: "A New Paradigm" in Colombia with Duque Victory

June 18, 2018

Colombia's next president "stands in a really good position to heal the polarization that marked the campaign," says La Rotta, head of AS/COA's media relations and an El Tiempo columnist.

Andrés Manuel López Obrado in Nuevo León, Mexico.

LatAm in Focus: Why Mexico's Election Will Redraw the Country's Political Map

June 12, 2018

Mexican pollster Jorge Buendía explains why Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s poll lead keeps growing, and how the election is redefining political rivalries.

Brazil poll update

Poll Update: Brazil's Uncertain Presidential Race

June 14, 2018

With four months to go until election day, a Datafolha poll shows a jailed ex-president ahead. What happens if he can’t run remains in doubt. 

#COLWallSt Video: Probabilidades electorales en Colombia y la agenda económica 2018-2022

June 14, 2018

¿Cómo sería la economía colombiana bajo el liderazgo de Iván Duque o de Gustavo Petro?

ANIF President Sergio Clavijo

#COLWallSt 2018 Recap: Colombia in the Eyes of Wall Street

June 14, 2018

Boosting growth, improving infrastructure, and increasing productivity: at AS/COA's Bogotá conference, participants discussed what lies ahead for Colombia's next president.

Colombia poll tracker graphic

Poll Tracker: Colombia's 2018 Presidential Election

June 11, 2018

Iván Duque leads Gustavo Petro by up to 20 points in four polls ahead of the June 17 runoff.

Mexico's 2018 Election: 5 Things to Know with 1 Month to Go

May 31, 2018

From polarization to ageism to the expat vote, AS/COA's Carin Zissis covers trends of note in the countdown to the presidential election.

Video: Denise Dresser and Gerardo Esquivel on #EleccionesMéxico

June 05, 2018

“Who is the real [Andrés Manuel] López Obrador?” This was one of the questions Dresser posited to the Mexican presidential frontrunner's economic advisor.

Candidates in Mexico's 2nd presidential debate

6 Weeks to Go: A Debate, Congressional Shifts, and One Candidate Out in Mexico's Race

May 24, 2018

We’re down to fewer than 40 days until Mexico’s election.

Alvaro Uribe and Ivan Duque (AP)

Colombia Update: Five Issues Hovering over Sunday's Election

May 24, 2018

A dam, turnout, and Venezuela could all play a hand in the May 27 presidential first-round vote.

Header graphic for Brazil 2018 elections calendar

Timeline: Brazil's 2018 Elections

May 22, 2018

Given the tempestuous nature of Brazilian politics in recent years, here are dates to help bring clarity as we approach the October 7 elections.

Vídeo: Renovação Política e Novas Lideranças no Brasil

May 16, 2018

Candidatos bolsistas da RenovaBR falaram das dificuldades do sistema político atual e como se preparam para renovar a política brasileira.

A man waves a flag at the Tijuana-San Diego border crossing.

7 Weeks to Go: How North American Ties Fit into Mexico's Elections

May 15, 2018

Amid unease over NAFTA timelines, we take a look at how relations with Washington factor into Mexico’s July 1 presidential vote.

A Venezuelan walks past a wall with graffiti that reads "I won't vote."

LatAm in Focus: Everything More Important than Venezuela's Election

May 16, 2018

Northwestern’s Daniel Lansberg-Rodríguez explains why the international private sector might be more effective than sanctions at bringing change to the South American country. 

Video: ¿Qué pasará en Venezuela después del 20 de mayo?

May 14, 2018

Días previos a las elecciones, tres destacados panelistas analizaron el panorama económico y político en Venezuela—y lo que le espera al país en el futuro.

Meade and Juarez Cisneros

8 Weeks to Go: Inside Mexico's Elections

May 08, 2018

A new PRI head, AMLO and business leaders, an ill-conceived tweet. AS/COA's Carin Zissis writes from Mexico on the latest issues shaping the races.

Video: Colombia Elections Outlook - Challenges for the Next Administration

May 09, 2018

Experts weighed in on the candidates and what these elections will mean for Colombia's political scene in the future.

Chart: The Millennial Vote in Latin America's Big Three Elections

Chart: The Millennial Vote in Latin America's Big Three Elections

May 04, 2018

How significant is the under-35 electorate in Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico? 

Ballot boxes for gubernatorial and municipal elections in Mexico (AP)

Explainer: Mexico's 2018 Gubernatorial Elections

May 02, 2018

The governing PRI could lose all nine races, but it’s not the only party at risk. Here’s why these seats matter, along with potential victors ahead of July 1.

Mario Abdo Benitez wins Paraguayan presidency. (AP)

Update: Paraguayans Elect Mario Abdo Benítez President

April 23, 2018

The former senator from the ruling Colorado Party is expected to maintain the current president’s business-friendly policies with reforms to security, education, and health.

Mexico's 2018 presidential candidates April 22 debate: Margarita Zavala, Jose Antonio Meade, Ricardo Anaya, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador AMLO, Jaime El Bronco Rodriguez

Viewpoint: Four Takeaways from Mexico's First Presidential Debate

April 23, 2018

The much-anticipated event was seen as a chance to dent AMLO’s formidable poll lead. Here’s what happened during the April 22 debate.

How Much Change Will Cuba’s New President Bring?

April 17, 2018

Raúl Castro will hand off the presidency – likely to his vice-president Miguel Díaz-Canel – leaving Cubans to speculate on the true impact of the shift.

Video: Mexico's Elections and the Race to Los Pinos

April 18, 2018

Watch: Get insights on the truth about polls, what an AMLO victory could mean for the energy sector, and bright spots for Mexico amid a fierce electoral battle. 

Paraguayan presidential candidates Efrain Alegre and Mario Abdo Benitez

Explainer: Paraguay's 2018 Elections

April 17, 2018

The governing party presidential candidate leads polls ahead of the April 22 election. Young voters could play a big role—if they show up.

Mexican presidential candidates: Ricardo Anaya (PAN), Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador aka AMLO (Morena), Jose Antonio Meade (PRI), Jaime El Bronco Rodriguez, Margarita Zavala (independent)

Explainer: Mexico's 2018 Election and Presidential Candidates

April 05, 2018

The presidential race is officially underway. Here's the rundown on the country’s biggest election in history.

Mexico-U.S. ties

The Real Challenge to U.S.-Mexico Relations

April 16, 2018

Mexicans won't pick their next president based on Trump tweets, but that doesn't mean bilateral ties aren't in jeopardy, writes AS Board Member Arturo Sarukhan in The Hill.

Onshore oil rig

Viewpoint: Elections Shouldn't Stymie Mexico's and Brazil's Energy Sectors

April 12, 2018

Energy reforms take time to bear fruit and protectionist election pledges would lead to backstepping, writes AS/COA’s Naki Mendoza.

Carlos Alvarado at victory rally after winning 2018 Costa Rican presidential runoff election.

Costa Rica Update: Carlos Alvarado Wins Presidency in Landslide

April 02, 2018

The ruling party candidate defied polls to best conservative Fabricio Alvarado by double digits in the April 1 vote.

Carlos Alvarado, Fabricio Alvarado, Costa Rican 2018 presidential candidates

Five Things to Know about Costa Rica's Presidential Runoff

March 28, 2018

Ticos cast votes for Fabricio Alvarado and Carlos Alvarado on April 1, Easter Sunday.

Video: Panel on Elections in Latin America at #LABC18

March 23, 2018

Experts from Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico offered insights on their respective countries' races, from the role of social media to corruption probes.

2018 Latin American elections flags

A Timeline of 2017 and 2018 Elections in Latin America

November 16, 2017

Latin Americans will vote for nine new presidents in two years, along with more than 2,900 legislators.

Brazil 2018: The “Chuchu Popsicle” Makes His Case

March 21, 2018

Geraldo Alckmin is the preferred candidate of Brazil’s establishment. In today’s environment, that may be a kiss of death.

2018 Election Guide Poll Update

Poll Update: In Mexico, Meade Rises but AMLO Rises More

March 22, 2018

In a March El Financiero presidential poll, the PRI’s José Antonio Meade takes the number two spot by a hair, but frontrunner Andrés Manuel López Obrador now has an 18-point edge.

Voters check lists in Colombia.

LatAm in Focus: In Colombia's 2018 Elections, Drama Is Good for Democracy

March 16, 2018

The country has presidential candidates across the spectrum, say columnists Álvaro Forero Tascón and Adriana La Rotta. And that’s a sign of just how far the post-conflict democracy has come.

Colombian poll workers tally presidential primary ballots. (AP)

Update: Colombian Presidential Race Comes into Focus

March 13, 2018

Recent legislative elections gave much-needed definition to a crowded field ahead of the May 27 first-round vote.

Colombian election polling site (AP)

Explainer: Colombia's 2018 Legislative Elections

March 08, 2018

The March 11 vote—the first in the FARC post-conflict era—will have significant implications for the May presidential vote. 

El Salvador voting center

LatAm in Focus: Back to the Future in Chile and El Salvador?

March 08, 2018

NYU’s Patricio Navia talks about Sebastián Piñera’s return to Chile’s presidency, and AU’s Héctor Silva Ávalos tells us why the FMLN’s electoral loss is ARENA’s gain in El Salvador. 

ARENA and FMLN election monitors in El Salvador vote (AP)

Update: 5 Things to Know about El Salvador's Elections

February 28, 2018

Polls suggest the main conservative party will pick up a larger portion of seats in March 4 legislative and municipal elections.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro

Update: What Is Happening with Venezuela's Presidential Election?

February 22, 2018

Venezuela is holding presidential elections, but they’ll be far from free and fair.

Poll Update: Costa Rica’s Two Alvarados in Dead Heat

Poll Update: Costa Rica's Two Alvarados in Dead Heat

February 21, 2018

Fabricio Alvarado has a slight edge but it’s a technical tie, and rising economic concerns could help Carlos Alvarado in the April 1 runoff.

Voter turnout in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Paraguay, and Venezuela since 2000

Chart: A Deep Dive into Voter Turnout in Latin America

June 19, 2018

More people will vote in Brazil in 2018 than in all other Latin American countries combined.

Video: 2018 Elections in Latin America - Americas Quarterly Launch Event

February 13, 2018

AQ brought together an expert panel to discuss issues ranging from Russian meddling to fake news to the market's effects on Latin America's 2018 elections.

Carlos Alvarado, Fabricio Alvarado, Costa Rica (AP)

Update: Two Alvarados Make It to Costa Rican Runoff

February 05, 2018

In an election marked by social conservatism, ticos will choose between Carlos and Fabricio Alvarado on Easter Sunday, April 1.

Poll update graphic

Poll Update: Costa Rica's 2018 Presidential Election

February 01, 2018

Fabricio Alvarado maintains his lead in the final poll before the February 4 vote, while Carlos Alvarado makes big gains, and Juan Diego Castro tumbles.

Costa Rican presidential candidates at January 30 debate

LatAm in Focus: Costa Rican Voters Are "Blowing in the Wind"

January 31, 2018

After decades of steady bipartisan politics, in 2018, Tico voters keep changing their minds about who they’re going to vote for on February 4, say two University of Costa Rica pollsters.

Poll Update: An Early Look at Mexico's 2018 Presidential Race

Poll Update: An Early Look at Mexico's 2018 Presidential Race

February 01, 2018

We’ve got some time until the July 1 election, but the race is heating up for the next occupant of Los Pinos.

Latin America's Angry Outsiders

January 22, 2018

In this new issue of AQ, we preview the region’s 2018 elections – and explain why anti-establishment nationalists are rising in the polls.

Meet the Candidates

January 22, 2018

A closer look at the leading candidates in this year’s presidential elections.

System Failure: Behind the Rise of Jair Bolsonaro

January 22, 2018

How a retired Army captain rose from a marginal apologist for torture and dictatorship to a serious contender for Brazil’s presidency.

Cuba's Five Issues to Watch in 2018

January 11, 2018

Here’s what you need to know about an end to the Castro presidency, new migration rules, Russia ties, and more.

A voter in Chihuahua, Mexico. (AP)

LatAm in Focus: From Elections to Trade, Latin America's Big 2018 Stories

January 11, 2018

If 2017 was the year that changed Washington, 2018 will redefine Latin America. AS/COA experts explain how in our first podcast of the year.

A man votes in Costa Rica's presidential election. (AP)

Explainer: Costa Rica's 2018 Elections

January 18, 2018

Just before the February 4 first round, court rulings have stirred the social order in the traditionally conservative country.

Election Update: What Piñera's Win Means for Chile

December 18, 2017

As business mogul Sebastián Piñera gets a second stab at the presidency, we look at the implications for legislation, markets, and trade.

Evo Morales and Daniel Ortega. (AP)

Explainer: A Look at Reelection in the Americas

December 07, 2017

As Bolivia’s Evo Morales eyes a fourth consecutive term, we look at other places in the Americas where the topic of reelection has made waves in recent years.

Honduras election

Honduras' Troubled 2017 Presidential Election

December 01, 2017

After days of delays and technical glitches, updated tallies put the president ahead as the country slides into its biggest political crisis since 2009.

Elections the Polls Got Wrong.

Weekly Chart: Polls Gone Awry in the Americas

December 01, 2017

If there’s one lesson to be learned from recent polling debacles, it’s that voters should never base their decision to head to the ballot box on them.

Meade and Peña. (AP)

Mexico Update: The 2018 Presidential Race Comes into Focus

November 30, 2017

On November 27, José Antonio Meade threw his hat into the ring. Can he beat Andrés Manuel López Obrador—and a whole host of other contenders?

Honduran election worker holds up ballot marked for Salvador Nasralla

Honduras Update: A Surprise (Partial) Result in the Presidential Vote

November 27, 2017

Polls indicated incumbent Juan Orlando Hernández’s reelection, but corruption concerns appear to have given a leg up to former sportscaster Salvador Nasralla.

Juan Orlando Hernández

Explainer: The 2017 Honduran Presidential Election

November 21, 2017

Polls show President Juan Orlando Hernández could win a second term on November 26 in a country where the issue of reelection sparked turmoil eight years ago.

Alejandro Guillier and Sebastián Piñera in Chile

Chile Election Update: Four Takeaways from the First Round

November 20, 2017

Polls got it wrong and all eyes are on which way losing candidates’ votes will go when Alejandro Guillier and Sebastian Piñera compete in a December 17 runoff.  

Chilean presidential candidates Piñera, Guillier, and Sánchez

LatAm in Focus: What to Look for in Chile's Presidential Elections

November 15, 2017

Sebastián Piñera will likely win the November 19 vote, but turnout will be key for his rival to stand a chance in the runoff, says political scientist Patricio Navia.

The Trouble Facing Colombia's Moderates

October 30, 2017

Without conflict to bring them together, Colombians are confronting their differences, and engaging in the messy business of democracy.

Making Sense of Colombia's Crowded Presidential Field

October 30, 2017

With more than two dozen potential candidates, Colombia’s 2018 race is up for grabs. Is there room for surprise among so many familiar faces?

Four Takeaways From Argentina’s Game-Changing Mid-Term Elections

October 23, 2017

The president's center-right coalition swept Argentina's biggest provinces in mid-term elections, opening his path to reelection in 2019.

Voting Center in Venezuela

Populism Is Coming for Latin America in 2018

October 23, 2017

Investors and policymakers need to watch the region's election wave, write AS/COA’s Brian Winter and Igarapé Institute’s Robert Muggah for ForeignPolicy.com.

An Mexican election worker marks a voter's thumb with ink.

LatAm in Focus: Mexico's Big Year Ahead

October 12, 2017

Victor Herrera, former Mexico City office head for S&P’s Global Ratings, spells out what’s in store for Mexico—from elections to NAFTA talks.

A voter steps on election flyers in Brazil 2017

Explainer: Brazil's Political Parties to Watch in 2018

October 06, 2017

Given voter disillusionment with traditional politics, the country’s parties are rebranding to rebuild their influence. A year before general elections, we profile the parties. 

Weekly Chart: Argentina's Legislative Elections by the Numbers

September 28, 2017

The October 22 vote will determine how much sway President Maurico Macri’s coalition will have in Congress, as well as Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s return to politics.

LatAm in Focus: Economic Realities Facing Chile's Next President

LatAm in Focus: Economic Realities Facing Chile's Next President

September 27, 2017

Listen: Now heading candidate Sebastián Piñera’s economic platform, former Finance Minister Felipe Larraín talks tax reform, copper, and more.

presidential candidates in chile

Explainer: Chile's Top Election Issues and Candidates

August 23, 2017

Get background on the issues dominating the 2017 campaign trail and the presidential candidates leading the polls.

A polling station in Cali, Colombia. (AP)

Explainer: Colombia's 2018 Elections

June 28, 2017

The race to replace outgoing President Juan Manuel Santos is on, with candidates from across the spectrum.