Cepal and IDEA bring together intellectuals and political leaders four decades after the third democratic wave in the region.
The conjuncture presses. The percentage of Latin Americans dissatisfied with the functioning of democracy has passed in less than a decade from 51% to 71%, according to the latest Latinobarómetro and it is urgent to put a brake on this dynamic. To this end, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA International) and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) gather more than forty experts, intellectuals and political leaders from the region in Santiago, Chile. United and Europe. An in-depth analysis of the state of democracy at a time of challenges to port and starboard.
Guests like the presidents Ricardo Lagos (Chile), Laura Chinchilla (Costa Rica) and Luis Alberto Lacalle (Uruguay) -who were part of the inaugural conference- will debate for three days about the collapse of institutions and the challenge of regaining confidence 40 years after the third democratic wave in Latin America. It is a complex issue, considering that the percentage of citizens who declare themselves indifferent between living in a democratic system and an authoritarian one has gone up 12 points in the last eight years, going from 16% to 28%, especially among young people aged 16 to 26 years, according to the same regional survey.
«What is the main cause of this discontent and frustration with democracy?» Asked Daniel Zovatto, IDEA International Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, at the inauguration of the event. According to the expert, there are two fundamental reasons: «On the one hand, political institutions have been outdated. We have institutions of the nineteenth century, with paradigms of the twentieth century, to govern complex societies of the 21st century. The second cause is the lack of results. » According to Zovatto, Latin Americans are not asking for more authoritarianism. «Less ideologized, more pragmatic, less patient and more demanding, what citizens demand is that their governments listen to them and represent them well, govern with transparency and respond promptly and effectively to their new expectations and demands».
In the same vein, the executive secretary of the ECLAC, Alicia Bárcena, asks: «Will it be that democracies are being required not only participation procedures, but rather quantifiable results in specific areas such as employment, social security, education , gender equality, decent pensions, citizen security, treatment of ethnic minorities? «.
Former President Lagos outlined, in turn, some explanations of what is happening in the region, although he indicated that Latin America faces complexities similar to those of the United States and Europe: «The new technologies totally change the way of understanding and doing politics. In the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century, it was vertical: the leader speaks and defines the line where he wants to go, the party takes definitions and citizens listen and think when there are elections. Today, however, the policy is horizontal, «said Lagos, who along with Chinchilla, Lacalle, the Minister of the Presidency of Chile, Gonzalo Blumel, and the former Chilean Minister, Sergio Bitar, opened the event at the headquarters of the ECLAC of the Chilean capital. Lagos asked about the political institutions that will emerge as a result of these technologies and pointed to a second issue related to the economy and social policies: «We are used to thinking about a close relationship between the increase in GDP per inhabitant, improvements economic-social and a satisfied citizenship. But globalization has winners and losers. »
Minister Blumel called for a «cautious optimism» when discussing the state of democracy in the region, because the world today «is better than 40 years ago». While the president Chinchilla said that «more than a disenchantment with democracy, what we see is a disenchantment with politics,» former Minister Bitar, member of the international IDEA council, stressed the importance of good governments: «Democracy needs govern well. Without improvisation, with transparency, with citizen consultations and political majorities. And Latin America lacks enough politically and technically well-educated people. »
Political phenomena such as those of Trump and Bolsonaro were frequently named at the kick-off conference of this meeting, where there will be panels on the new agenda of the Latin American middle class or the situation of Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and Honduras. But Brexit was also talked about. For former President Lacalle, who governed Uruguay between 1990 and 1995, «Brexit is one of the clearest evidence that there are things that are notthey can submit to yes and no. » «As if we were asking for more taxes or less taxes: we would already know what the result will be,» said Lacalle, who was not in favor of increasing direct and participatory democracy. «What needs to be improved is representation, but not dodging it. Beware of the plebiscite of every day pressing buttons and beware of presidents twitterers, the striptease of power, «warned the exmandatario.
Source: EDICIONES EL PAÍS S.L.