Venezula, Argentina, Mexico: upcoming elections launch controversy, speculation, hope


Upcoming elections in Venezuela, Mexico, and Argentina will play an important role in shaping the future of these three countries and their relationships with the international community.

While discussing the implication of these upcoming elections, George Guo, associate professor of political science and East Asian studies, stressed the importance of understanding background.

Guo explained the three features that the people of Latin America have historically looked for in their leaders: support of the poor, nationalistic pride, and support of delegative democracy, which is “the society over individual freedom.”

“This is the framework that the elections will take place in,” said Guo.


According to the Miami Herald, incumbent President Hugo Chávez will be challenged by his opposition in what is predicted to be a narrow race for the upcoming parliamentary elections. Fifty-two percent of voters support party officials associated with Chávez and 48 percent support the opposition, reported the Herald.

The Los Angeles Times reported that “there is a sense that the president … could be vulnerable.”

Still, economic downturn, record high crime, and recent power outages have not completely undermined Chavez’s “strong base of support among the poor,” said pollster Luis Vicente Leon to the Miami Herald.

“Chávez is very charismatic,” said Guo. “He uses this as legitimacy.” 

There is growing concern, however, that Chávez and his administration are bending the rules by carving up new voting districts, according to the Miami Herald. 

Luis Enrique Lander, director of Ojo Electoral, one of four national groups monitoring the race, expressed concern about the system in an interview with The Herald. 

“The constitution calls for proportional representation, and this system no longer provides that,” said Lander. “Now it’s a quasi-majority system. The winners won’t take everything, but they will take almost everything.” 


Like Venezuela, Argentina favors a “populist left” political ideology, according to Guo.

Opposition candidate Ricardo Alfonsín told the Miami Herald that Argentinians are ready to free themselves from the “generalized pessimism” that bogs down the electorate.

Alfonsín has gained prominence since he was elected to the Radical Civic Union (UCR) this past June. 

The UCR has historically opposed the Peronists and has a strong basis of support in the urban middle class. 

Gerardo Morales, another representative of the UCR, spoke at the Americas Conference in Coral Gables, Miami on Sept. 21, covered by the Miami Herald. 

Morales addressed the concern that although Argentina’s economy is growing, the quality of life is not improving among the country’s poor. 

This will be one of the main issues addressed during the presidential races that are beginning now and will be held in the fall of 2011. 


The current ruling party of Mexico, the National Action Party (PAN), has struggled with the slow economy and notorious drug wars that have made the headlines this past year. 

These security problems have “made many yearn for the strong-arm rule of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, PRI, which held sway over Mexican politics for 70 years,” said Diana Villiers Negroponte of the Brookings Institute to the Miami Herald. 

Enrique Peña Nieto, governor of the state of Mexico and a member of the PRI, has been identified as a candidate for the 2012 presidency. 

Nadia Peterson, a Mexican student, told The Guilfordian that many Mexicans believe Nieto will win.

While the PAN was elected last year on the platform that they would fix the “70 years of corruption” the PRI had left in their wake, Peterson felt that the momentum had shifted back toward the PRI for this upcoming election. 

Peterson explained that the Mexican mentality in regards to politics is “paternalistic,” meaning that many citizens expect the government to fix their problems but do not want to pay for it. 

“PAN has tried in some ways to fix the corruption and the issues with the black market by raising taxes, and the PRI promises to lower them again,” Peterson explained.

According to Peterson, both parties seem to “sweep everything under the carpet” and she believes that “corruption and illegal businesses, be they drug related or not, will continue to thrive behind closed doors.”

“Not much change is expected from whatever the outcome to the next elections is,” Peterson concluded. Peterson added that “Things are not as bleak as they appear from the outside.”

News articles across the Americas echo the same question: what will the outcomes be, and what will these elections mean?

Much of Latin America has historically weak political institutions, according to Guo.

“Economic growth is not possible without good international relationships,” Guo said. 

It has yet to be seen how this dynamic will be effected by the future leaders of Venezuela, Argentina, and Mexico, but the future of these countries lies in the hands of those citizens who make their voices heard in the polls in the upcoming months.