Venezuela is an incredibly dynamic country. After several decades of stability, the country has been shaken by major political realignments, economic shifts and policy changes since El Caracazo took place in 1989. In that year, the population rose up violently in response to the government's economic reforms that included increases in the price of gasoline and transportation.
On January 31st, 2012, Chile passed a law changing the vote from compulsory to voluntary, while at the same time expanding the register, allowing every citizen over the age of 18 to vote automatically, without the need to be registered. This contrasted with the previous mechanism, a registration system that was voluntary, but once citizens were inside they were forced to vote in every election, albeit under a weak threat of a pecuniary sanction.
As tradition mandates, every 11th day of the month of March following the election of a new president, Chile celebrates the inauguration of its new Chief Executive. In 2014, Michelle Bachelet becomes the first president to be inaugurated for a second time since the return of democracy in 1989. She takes the reigns back from Sebastián Piñera, who governed the country for the last four years.
On December 9th, 2013, then mayor of Bogotá Gustavo Petro was dismissed from his post and subsequently banned from holding public office for 15 years.1 Petro was a former M19 guerrilla and longtime opposition leader who was known for being the highest ranking former guerilla in Colombia. The man who made the decision to fire Petro due to ‘gross mismanagement’ was Inspector General Alejandro Ordóñez, who has a reputation for doing away with leftist politicians.
Venezuelans remain restless as political chaos affects their country and groups have been divided into supporters of President Nicolás Maduro and the opposition. La Universidad Central de Venezuela (UCV) has become a microcosm for the nation’s situation as student groups confront one another within the university's walls.
2014 national elections in Costa Rica represents the end of the political era inaugurated in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The country has had a reputation of being an old and stable democracy in Latin America. Three main factors in the last decade have transformed the path party system has followed leading the political system into a paradoxical situation. First, individuals’ attachments to parties are weaker and have been replaced over time by careful scrutiny of the candidates and their proposals.
Colombians’ decision to reject the deal that would bring peace to their country after 52 years of armed conflict shocked the Colombian government, the FARC rebel group, and the world on October 2. In late September, Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos signed the accord with rebel leader Timoleón “Timochenko” Jímenez and then put the deal to a popular vote, expecting an easy win over his opponents who were calling for Colombia to say “no” to the deal.
Mexico’s 2014 constitutional reform to allow for the reelection of federal deputies and senators limits the ability of party switchers to seek reelection.1 Why? This limitation on reelection speaks to an increasing concern over party switching in Mexico, an issue I take up in a recent study published in Latin American Politics and Society.2 In the article, I seek to explain why politicians in Mexico switch political parties.
Last year, the Obama administration announced a new civil society initiative, Stand with Civil Society, calling for support of civil society groups across the world and acknowledging the role they play in pushing for citizen engagement, equity, transparency and accountability. These positive perspectives of civil society pushing for more democratic governance contrasts with more skeptical views that civil society may actually negatively impact the prospects for d