The Resurgence of the Political Right in Latin America
This project examines how patterns of social protection, socioeconomic (im)mobility, and political representation during the first decade of the twenty-first century contributed to subsequent political shifts in Latin America. Empowered by windfall revenues from commodities exports, the left-wing (Pink Tide) governments of the 2000s implemented and expanded progressive redistribution programs that, along with economic growth, reduced poverty and inequality. However, the political right reemerged forcefully in the region during the 2010s, in some instances taking authoritarian and anti-establishment forms. Why did the region and voters who produced the Pink Tide—governments that successfully increased human security according to various metrics—turn to the political right a short decade later? I argue that the Pink Tide governments were largely victims of their own success, and that the patterns mentioned above made the political left susceptible to losing support, anti-incumbent voting, and challenges from the populist, authoritarian right. Rising incomes overall, a relatively stagnant “vulnerable” class, the left’s newfound commitment to the lower socioeconomic class, and a recent economic downturn following negative shocks to commodities export prices precipitated, I hypothesize, a backlash against the Pink Tide governments during the 2010s. To test these arguments, I rely on individual-level data collected and published by the Latin American Public Opinion Project’s (LAPOP) AmericasBarometer survey. Access to the comprehensive AmericasBarometer data was made possible by a Student Research Grant from the Mershon Center for International Security Studies. With these rich data and for this project, I plan to analyze how the dynamics of socioeconomic (im)mobility, risk and human security, political representation, and democratic dissatisfaction may have led to the resurgence of the political right in individual Latin American countries over time, and in the region more broadly.