Radical democratic politics are now thriving in Latin America as never before. Free elections, a free press and vibrant political parties all signal the consolidation of democracy. There is a unique situation when the vast majority of the continent — with the exceptions of Mexico, Chile and Colombia — has left-of-centre governments. The first section of this chapter examines current political processes through a number of key case studies that can be seen as indicators of more general trends. However, there is also a possibility of disenchantment with democracy, which might be seen to not deliver social and economic advances in many cases. Then we turn to what many observers have called a ‘left turn’ in Latin American politics with the rise of Hugo Châvez in Venezuela and Evo Morales in Bolivia, for example. Finally, we focus on the very serious challenges faced by democratic politics in contemporary Latin America, including dealing with income inequality and with corruption.
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