Friday, January 27, 2012

Presidential re-election in Latin America

Michael Penfold (who is critical of Hugo Chávez) has an interesting look at Henrique Capriles Radonski and the Venezuelan opposition in the current issue of Foreign Affairs. Beyond the Venezuelan political context, however, he makes the following point:

Incumbents in Latin America rarely lose reelection bids. In the last three decades, there have been only two: Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua and Hipólito Mejía in the Dominican Republic.

Is this true? Augusto Pinochet lost his referendum to remain president, though it was not a re-election bid because he'd never been elected in the first place. In some countries, like Mexico and democratic Chile, presidents either can only serve one term or must wait one term before running again (thus making it impossible to be an incumbent).

Latin American presidents who might have lost a re-election bid have tended to resign or otherwise leave office (sometimes by force) before facing voters. Or they simply steal the election. Alberto Fujimori did both--he stole an election and then later resigned. The lack of a no-confidence vote means a string of coups, coup attempts, and forced resignations. Overall, it's a pretty depressing statistic.


Anonymous,  9:46 AM  

Yes, it seems like this argument needs to be taken in the context of Latin American democracies where it is not uncommon that weak presidents don't complete their terms in office. For instance, according to Anibal Perez-Linan, between 1992 and 2004, six Latin American presidents were impeached and four actually removed from office.

Barbara Frechette 11:36 AM  

I am hugely interested in Latin American politics, having just recently authored a book on women politicians from that area. I think you and your readers might be very interested in it and I'd be happy to send you a copy. If you're interested, I encourage you to contact my publicist at


  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP