Before entering into a detailed examination of the elections that were held in Latin America in 2002, it is worth noting the unique historical situation in the region since the start of the ‘third wave’ of democratization. The past 25 years have seen the longest and most far-reaching process of democratization in the region[2]. Despite the unequal results achieved by the democratic process in terms of both development and quality, it is in the area of civil liberties that perhaps the greatest change has taken place. The historical context, experiences at home and the international situation have led democracy to be the only viable option during the entire period. Any government hoping to retain a hold on power must declare itself openly democratic and adhere to the results of the ballot box. It must institutionalize the political process, guarantee human rights, maintain an independent judicial system, plurality and freedom of expression, ie, introduce democratic practices that are absent in authoritarian regimes.

Never before have there been so many elected democratic governments, nor as many transitions towards democracy. This has not necessarily implied full satisfaction with democracy; indeed, even in those countries where democracy has been firmly established, much of the population is still disappointed with the economic and social results. As the United Nations Development Program[3] notes, many engaged in the fight for democracy in the hope that it would bring with it social justice, greater participation in the political process and a peaceful solution to conflict. And, rightly or wrongly, they also believed that democracy would bring economic development. Today, two decades later, we can see that in too many countries, democracy has not improved living standards for many people.

Indeed, in many countries, progress in democratization has been unequal and has not been accompanied by significant improvements in living standards. While political development has been indispensable, all too often it has not been sufficient to guarantee political stability. Economic development was required in order to provide the system with the necessary balance to satisfy the electorate’s expectations. The reality of Latin America shows that all countries in the region face important social and economic limitations, and therefore challenges in both economic and social terms, the persistence of which presents a potential threat to political stability and governability.

Disenchantment with politics is reflected time and time again in surveys carried out in Latin America, and seems largely to be motivated by deep-rooted economic and social problems that somehow or other hinder the appearance of greater opportunities and a rising standard of living. The result is apathy, a distancing from the political process, and loss of confidence in the system as a means to solve important problems. In spite of this, the process of democratization continues, although with limitations that are difficult to overcome. Opinion polls and qualitative studies show that governments and the main political parties rapidly lose support. Faced with such a picture, we might well ask ourselves how and why Latin America’s democracies survive. Why have we not seen a return to the democracy-authoritarianism cycle?

Some analysts suggest that the survival of democracy is due less to its own merits, than to the lack of individuals aiming to establish a different political system; hence, the perseverance of democracy in Latin America is not an endogenous process arising from its greater legitimacy, but an externally defined mechanism resulting from the absence of agents acting expressly against it.[4] The optimists however, would say that despite its weaknesses and limitations, democracy is the best political system we have, and that although in itself it does not guarantee equality, rapid economic growth or stability, the links between democracy and human development can be strong, even though in almost all countries they need strengthening further[5].

The region faces a democratic shortfall (albeit with important differences between countries) and a difficult economic and social situation. Despite reforms, economic growth has been slow and volatile. And with poverty levels of 40%, wealth distribution is unequal (the worst in the world). All of this has generated growing concern for the political health of Latin America as regards the deepening, consolidation and durability of democracy. Although the last two decades have seen the end of authoritarian regimes and the spread of democracy was an extraordinary event that brought about extremely important benefits for the population, at the start of the new millennium joy for the inexorable spread of democracy has given way to a more sober prospect, focused on the major challenges facing Latin America on the economic, social, and political fronts.

The Electoral Year in Context

The Socio-economic Context

Data from the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL) show that Latin America faces one of the most critical periods of recent decades. While some economies are experiencing moderate growth, at least five are in recession. Per capita income is lower than five years ago, consumption has stopped, and investment is at its lowest level in ten years. After almost half a decade of externally imposed financial restrictions, and low internal growth, most countries have lost any room for manoeuvre to face the effects of the economic cycle.[6]

According to CEPAL data, Latin America’s economic performance fell by 0.5% in 2002. Per capita growth was negative at -1.9% for the second year running. The worst-affected economies were Argentina, Uruguay, and Venezuela, while the others barely managed the same levels of GDP growth as last year. Overall, the region has accumulated negative growth of -0.3% over the last five years based on the average annual per capita GDP from 1998. This negative process is due to a range of factors; in particular the international economic situation, which has seen a decline in trade in the region overall. Investors have also kept away, and the ramifications of the Argentine crisis continue to be felt. Given that practically no country has been able to manage even moderate growth, it can safely be said that the region overall is stuck in a period of economic stagnation[7]. As the CEPAL report all too clearly shows, the most outstanding aspect of economic policy in 2002 was the confirmation that the authorities there have less freedom to manage the economy. This is due both to external restrictive factors, although it is also a response to the imbalances accumulated during the better years.[8]

Social Factors

Given the stagnation throughout the region, the labour market has weakened, with the average unemployment rate for the region rising to 9.1% during 2002, almost one percentage point higher than over the last two years. In Argentina, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Uruguay and Venezuela, the figure was over 15%. This has had a clear impact on poverty levels. According to CEPAL, poverty levels rose to 43% of the population in 2001, while the extremely poor now make up 18.6%. Estimates for 2002 point to 44% and possibly up to 20%, respectively. Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela saw a sharp rise in poverty in 2002.[9]

Popular Opinion

To economic uncertainty should be added the growing popular discontent in many countries. This has mainly shown itself through a rejection of politics and of politicians. Such attitudes and perceptions are reflected in opinion polls and in the degree to which people take part in the political process. The Latinobarómetro survey for 2002 clearly shows this growing disenchantment. While 56% of Latin Americans say they support democracy, they are very dissatisfied with the way it works. The figures show that around 60% of Latinobarómetro respondents describe themselves as ‘unsatisfied democrats’. In contrast, barely 33% of those polled described themselves as ‘satisfied democrats’, that is to say that they both support the system, and believe that it works. It is important to point out that the 2002 survey shows that the gap in relation to indifference between democracy and authoritarianism is only 18%. However, what is important is that around 50% say that they would not mind putting up with an undemocratic government as long as the economy and the labour situation improve.

When evaluating trust in the institutions of the state, the Congress and political parties suffered the greatest loss of public confidence. Support for Congress fell from 36% in 1997 to 23% in 2002, while political parties fell from 28% to 14% over the same period. Despite overall support for democratic ideals, and a rejection of authoritarian alternatives, the majority of people are disillusioned with the way their political systems work. Neither the governments, nor in the wider sense the democratic process, have fulfilled people’s expectations in respect of the production of goods, the solving of social problems or the functioning of the political process itself. Dissatisfaction is general, although its political consequences differ from country to country.

In some countries, opinion polls suggest a wish to return to strong leadership, which in some cases has helped former members of the military that had already tried to seize power, or authoritarian leaders, to take office once again, albeit this time through the ballot box. In other cases, the general sense of dissatisfaction has launched the careers of outsiders, candidates whose links to the traditional parties were either weak or non-existent. In some cases, politicians distanced themselves from their traditional party, and effectively re-launched their careers, this time on the basis of populist and anti-party rhetoric and their own personal appeal.[10] These trends are substituting what once would have been an openly authoritarian solution, and the growth of such trends in the coming years could well damage the institutions of democracy, contributing to ‘deconstruction’.[11] The elections of 2002 show a growth in these trends, as seen in cases as diverse as those of Lucio Gutiérrez in Ecuador, Álvaro Uribe in Colombia, or the appearance of third forces in Costa Rica or Bolivia.

In some countries, the party system has been weakened, and with it the credibility of Congress, of other democratic institutions and of politicians –both as a whole and individually considered–. In some cases, this has brought about the virtual disappearance of many long-standing political parties, and has made it more difficult for the traditional representational institutions to carry out their work. A consequence has been to make democratic competition more uncertain and tense, representation to become more personalised and accountability between voters and politicians to weaken. In some cases, this loss of belief in elected officials has weakened the ability of the state to offer an effective answer to economic and social problems, mainly due to the public’s lack of confidence in the integrity and common sense of any action they should undertake.

In spite of the low levels of confidence in the political system, 52% of Latin Americans said they believed that there can be no democracy without Congress or political parties. This figure has remained constant over the last three years (50% in 2001 and 57% in 1999-2000), and would seem to validate the thesis held by some academics that despite the electorate’s hostile perception of parties and their elites, they are still seen as the only way to make the political system work.[12] In short, the data for 2002 show that people are learning to distinguish between support for democracy as a system and support for those involved in it. Most people see the political elites as the problem, not the system per se. As Marta Lagos has pointed out, it is not that people are shunning democracy, rather their bad governments. At the centre of the question are the expectations that the governing elites have generated but so far failed to meet[13]. It would seem that a learning process is underway within which the electorate support the structures of democracy, but base their support of the governing elites increasingly on their results.

Analysis of the Electoral Process in 2002

The elections celebrated in 2002 are in large part a reflection of the political and economic reality of the region, both in terms of results and the way they took place. Eight countries held elections, and in all cases the events were well-run and well-organized.

·         In Costa Rica, general elections were held in February, with a second presidential round in April, and a first set of municipal elections, separate from the general election, was held in December.

·         In Nicaragua, regional elections were held on the Atlantic coast.

·         Colombia held legislative elections in March, with the presidential election in May.

·         The Dominican Republic held legislative and municipal elections in May.

·         In Bolivia, there were presidential and legislative elections in July.

·         In October, Brazil and Ecuador held general elections, with subsequent second rounds.

·         Peru held regional and municipal elections in November.

Including second rounds where necessary, some 13 elections were held in 2002. An analysis of each electoral process follows.

Costa Rica 2002: the fragmentation of power and an increase in the abstention rate (February 3 and April 7, general elections; December 1, municipal)

Election day, February 3, passed without incident, although a number of new aspects presented themselves. The presidential elections, polarized for more than half a century between the Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC), and the National Liberation Party (PLN), saw the emergence of a new party, the Citizens’ Action Party (PAC). For the first time, a ballotage or second ballot was necessary, so close was the contest. The PUSC candidate was Abel Pacheco, a psychiatrist and a well-known figure on the political scene. The PLN was represented by Rolando Araya, a long-standing figure within his party. PLN renegade and populist Ottón Solís stood for the PAC. The PUSC, whose origins lie in left-wing populism, has gradually become the party now most identified with neo-liberal policies, particularly during the presidency of Miguel Ángel Rodríguez. The PLN maintained its social-democrat profile. While the new force led by Solís campaigned on a platform of renewal, calling for a clampdown on corruption and a return to ethical values. None of the three was able to win the 40% required to win the first round. The governing PUSC party won 590,277 votes (38.6%), while the PLN managed 475,030 votes, garnering 31%. The two candidates then went on to a second round on April 7. The PUSC was ahead of its rival by more than 115,000 votes in the first round, and won by more than 200,000 in the second, which explains the eight percentage point difference in the second round between the two parties.

Figure 1. Costa Rica: Presidential Elections 2002, National Total

Candidate/Party1st Round(Feb-3-02)%2nd Round(Apr-7-02)%
Abel Pacheco (PUSC)590,27738.6776,27858.0
Rolando Araya (PLN)475,03031.1563,20242.0
Partido Acción Ciudadana400,68126.2
Movimiento Libertario25,8151.7
Renovación Costarricense16,4041.1
Total valid votes1,529,8451001,339,480100

Source: Observatorio Electoral Latinoamericano. Prepared using data provided by the TSE.

While all parties suffered due to high levels of voter apathy, and of course the appearance of a third force, it was the PLN who lost out most. It not only lost a large number of votes, but was also unable to carry a single province. The PUSC won in all the country’s seven regions, in many with a significant majority. In relation to the elections of 1998, when it won 44.6% of the vote, the PLN saw its popularity fall by 13.5 points. But the PUSC also lost support, although to a lesser extent. Its share of the vote in the presidential elections increased due to the so-called hard-core of the party being joined by supporters attracted by Pacheco himself. However, the PAC was the ‘revelation’, not only for its strong performance, but because its presence increased the sense of plurality and brought about the need for a second round. The PLN was worst hit by the PAC’s appearance, given Ottón Solís’ roots in the party. Some political analysts, such as Rodolfo Cerdas, warned that the two main parties’ lack of credibility would not only divide the vote, but weaken the two-party system that Costa Rica had established over the years. Time alone will tell if the 2002 elections were the result of particular circumstances, or the expression of a move towards greater party pluralism.

The second electoral round on April 7 saw Pacheco take 58% of the vote against Araya’s 42%. This was the first time in Costa Rican history that a second round became necessary, and also the first time that the PUSC won a consecutive term in office. In the last 50 years, only the PLN had been able to accomplish this, through the governments of José Figueres and Daniel Oduber (1970-74 and 1974-78) and Luis Alberto Monge and Oscar Arias in 1982-86 and 1986-90 respectively.

An analysis of the election shows a slight increase in the abstention rate during the first round, with an increase in the second –31% and 39% respectively–. Some commentators have attributed this growth to high numbers of PAC voters failing to turn out in the second round, explained by the lack of a ballotage culture in Costa Rica. F. Sánchez uses the neologism of dis-alignment, one of the principal features of which is an increase in the abstention rate.[14]

As regards the parliamentary elections, it is worth pointing out that neither of the major parties won a Congressional majority. The legislative elections for 2002 –as with the presidential poll– brought 16 years of alternating governments between the PLN and the PUSC. As a result, Parliament is now divided into three main blocks, with the PLN holding 17 seats, the PUSC 19 and the PAC 14. The Libertarian Movement holds six seats. The number of political forces represented in Congress was also changed. Between 1998 and 2002, seven parties were represented, but during the period 2002 to 2006, only five will be present in Congress. This will mean a greater need for alliances to ensure governability.

Figure 2. Costa Rica: Composition of Parliament, 2002-04

Partido Unidad Social Cristiana1933.3%
Partido Liberación Nacional1729.8%
Partido Acción Ciudadana1424.7%
Movimiento Libertario610.5%
Renovación Costarricense11.7%

Source: Observatorio Electoral Latinoamericano based on official data from the TSE.

Figure 3. Costa Rica: 2002 Parliamentary Elections, National Total

Unidad Social Cristiana453,20129.8
Liberación Nacional412,38327.1
Partido Acción Ciudadana334,16222.0
Movimiento Libertario142,1529.3
Renovación Costarricense54,6993.6
Fuerza Democrática30,1722.0
Total valid votes1,521,854100.0

Source: Observatorio Electoral Latinoamericano using TSE data.

The new Parliament reveals a break in voting patterns that has created a new balance of power. Neither the mobilization of the ‘hard-core’ PUSC vote that enabled its candidate to win the elections, nor the charismatic figure of Abel Pacheco persuaded PLN voters that did not support Araya to go over to the PUSC. The PLN, which also appealed to its loyal core of supporters, was similarly unable to win a parliamentary majority, as many of its traditional voters went over to the PAC.

The interesting thing about the PAC vote is that aside from the party’s ability to attract voters from the PLN at both the presidential and legislative elections, it was also able to garner the undecided vote. The Libertarian Movement was unable to win much support for its presidential candidate, but fared well in the legislative elections. The three smaller parties, the RC, PAC, and ML, now occupy a strategic place in the parliamentary process. In the absence of a parliamentary majority, the PUSC must now look to the smaller parties for support[15]. The growth of the PAC and the ML’s greater number of seats mean that both are now in a position to influence the balance of power in parliament.

For the first time, on December 1, local elections were held separately from the parliamentary and presidential polls[16]. Throughout the country’s 81 municipalities, some 2,331,459 voters were eligible to vote for 162 deputies and 4,722 members of district councils. Three main characteristics emerged in the electoral process: an unprecedentedly high abstention rate (77.7%), the implementation of a pilot scheme for electronic voting and the emergence of parties operating purely at the cantonal level. Many explanations were offered regarding the growth of voter apathy. Aside from a general disenchantment with the political process and less interest in local politics than national, a number of other possible explanations emerged: the elections coincided with the beginning of the school holidays; and there had been little information about the elections or their importance. Fernando Zeledón pointed out in the Observatorio Electoral that it was a mistake to hold the elections during the rainy season –polling was suspended in the Caribbean province of Limón as a result– as it contributed to increase the abstention rate.

In 133 of the 6,028 voting booths, an electronic system was introduced. Of the 46,241 people eligible to use the system, 40% still opted to vote by the traditional method. The plan showed that the idea of voting electronically was however, viable. As a result, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal has decided to go fully electronic in 2006[17]. The growth of parties functioning purely at cantonal level had been underway since 1998. In the last elections, 11 such parties presented mayoral and other municipal candidates; in those elections, for the first time, a cantonal party, the Yunta Progresista Escazuceña, gained a majority of seats in the municipal council and displaced the two traditional ruling parties in the canton. Other regional parties, such as Del Sol and Curridabat Siglo XXI, changed the balance of power. In 2002, the number of parties increased substantially. In the February election 19 local parties presented candidates, while in December 34 were present, although their results were not all that good.

An analysis of the results according to political groupings shows that the PLN and PUSC candidates were the clear winners, taking 93% of the country’s 71 town halls –47 went to the PUSC and 28 to the PLN–. Five non-traditional parties won control of municipalities: Acción Ciudadana and Curridibat Siglo XXI in San José province; Independiente Obrero and Auténtico Paraiseño in Cartago; and Guanacaste Independiente in Guanacaste.

Figure 4. Costa Rica: 2002 Municipal Elections, National Total

Partido Unidad Social Cristiana182,834
Partido Liberación Nacional121,649
Movimiento Libertario18,450
Renovación Costarricense14,210
Partido Acción Ciudadana64,681
Total valid votes454,969

Source: Observatorio Electoral Latinoamericano using TSE data.

The results of this election can be explained in several ways. On the one hand, the law does not provide for financing of parties at municipal level. At the same time, they were held in the same year as the presidential elections –which went to a second round–. In short, many parties had run out of money and their electoral teams were worn out. As a result, the most important factor in the elections was the lack of information provided to voters: no money meant that electoral programmes could not be printed, and without that, it was impossible to get people to attend electoral meetings. It should be said that the media did make an effort to inform people of what their options were however.

Nicaragua: a new test for a regional system already under question (March 3rd, regional elections)

At the beginning of March 2002 elections were held in the country’s two autonomous regions: the North Atlantic (RAAN), and the South Atlantic (RAAS). The rest of Nicaragua is made up of fifteen departments. The two coastal regions are hot and humid, and made up largely of jungle and swamp. They make up 40% of the national territory, with only 8% of the population –mostly indigenous peoples of the Miskito, Sumu and Rama ethnic groups–. This was the fourth election held here since 1990. The overall climate was tense, and involvement in the elections was highlighted by voter apathy.

Political life in these regions is dominated by the highly active indigenous groups, who although they are numerically in the minority, have been a major part of the political scene since the 1970s. These groups fought alongside the Sandinistas during the revolution, but soon fell out when the government of Daniel Ortega attempted to transform the political and social structure of these regions and the indigenous peoples reacted in order to defend their culture, beliefs and traditional forms of organization. The conflict cooled off when these regions won autonomy. At present, the indigenous peoples are trying to consolidate this process, affirm their identity and delimit their territories. Faced with extreme poverty and rebuilding of areas affected by natural catastrophes, they have put their demands to the central government and multi-lateral agencies.

The March elections revealed the absence of state institutions in the regions, as well as the continuing after-effects of the national elections in 2001, which saw bitter conflict over the succession of the arch-conservative Arnaldo Alemán of the Constitutional Liberal Party (PLC). The first elections were focused on pacification and on the expectations of the indigenous peoples regarding regional autonomy. But by the third elections in 1998, it was clear that local people were not satisfied with the Regional Councils that had been established to this end. There were complaints that the national parties were making no effort to regulate the autonomous regimes, ignoring the demands of the indigenous peoples and accepting administrative corruption in the regional councils. This led to high abstention rates in 2002.

The North Atlantic Region has an electoral roll of 199,262 voters, while the South Atlantic Region has 84,982 voters, of whom only 35% live in urban or semi-urban areas. The parties competing were the PLC, the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), the indigenous Yapti Tasba Masraka Nanih Aslatakanka (YATAMA), and two smaller parties. The debate narrowed down to differences between those in favour of autonomy and ‘neo-integrationists’[18], represented by the PLC. However, the PLC is not against interethnic autonomy, but believes that integration mechanisms are needed with the rest of the country to be able to set a national agenda. The YATAMA fights exclusively for the interests of the Miskito ethnic group, while the FSLN sought a compromise agreement. This was interpreted by many local people more as a way of scoring points at the PLC’s expense than as a credible option. YATAMA, which in the past had made alliances with the National Opposition Union (UNO) as well as the PLC, this time around decided to form a pact with the Sandinistas to keep the PLC out. The PLC carried the northern region with 35% of the vote, against the 32.9% of the Sandinistas and the 21.6% of YATAMA. In the south the PLC won a sufficient majority to allow it to run the Regional Council alone.

Figure 5. Nicaragua: 2002 Regional Elections, RAAN

Partido Liberal Constitucionalista (PLC)16,34035.9
Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN)14,96132.9
Yapti Tasba Masraka Nanih Aslatakanka (YATAMA)9,83721.6
Partido Movimiento de Unidad Costeña (PAMUC)3,2327.1
Partido Resistencia Nicaragüense (PRN)1,1062.4
Total valid votes45,476100

Source: Observatorio Electoral Latinoamericano. Prepared using CSE data.

Figure 6. Nicaragua: 2002 Regional Elections, RAAS

Partido Liberal Constitucionalista (PLC)17,18662.2
Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN)7,31526.5
Yapti Tasba Masraka Nanih Aslatakanka (YATAMA)1,7266.2
Partido Resistencia Nicaragüense (PRN)1,4255.2
Total valid votes27,652100

Source: Observatorio Electoral Latinoamericano. Prepared using CSE data.

The PLC garnered 45.8% of the regional vote, based on 73,128 valid votes. They were followed by the Sandinistas with 30.5% and, in third place, the YATAMA. The Movement for Coastal Unity (PAMUC) won 4.4% of the vote in the North Atlantic Region. It did not field candidates in the south. The Nicaraguan Resistance Party (PRN) garnered 3.5% of votes. The process was attended by observers from a number of NGOs such as Ética y Transparencia, the Institute for Development and Democracy (IPADE), the local Centre for Human Rights, Ciudadanos y Autonómicos, as well as the Organization of American States (OEA). The OEA’s Electoral Observation Mission, which had been set up the year before in Managua during the troubled general elections of November 2001, criticized several aspects of the poll. Internal difficulties within the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE), particularly in relation to the matter of bringing witnesses to vote, sparked a crisis in the body, which was unable to reach quorum on many important decisions regarding the electoral process.

The OEA mission criticized the Acta de Promesa de Ley (APL), by which citizens with a valid identity card, but not registered to vote in their district, could still do so by appearing with two witnesses able to verify their address. Most parties opposed this, with the exception of the PLC, citing fears that outsiders would be brought into the region[19]. The report adds that discontent with the APL made the crisis in Electoral Council mre acute, leading to the loss of the necessary quorum just a few weeks before the election. The OEA mission, led by Santiago Murray, noted the weakness of the CSE, and its inability to reach agreements, which weakened its ability to impose its authority on the coming elections[20]. The CSE is a highly politicized body, divided between the PLC and the FSLN[21]. Finally, the OEA mission expressed its concern at the 60%-65% abstention rate (which is difficult to calculate given the number of unregistered voters), and called on the authorities to develop mechanisms to increase participation in the autonomous regions[22].

Colombia: Elections hit by violence (March 10, legislative elections; May 26, presidential elections)

The start of the election campaign coincided with the final collapse of the peace process initiated in 1999 by President Pastrana. Despite the creation of a non-conflict zone, the representatives of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and subjected any negotiations to the prior adoption of what they called ‘revolutionary government measures.’ Without entering here into an assessment of the results of the peace process initiated under the Pastrana government –much was achieved, but many mistakes were made– most Colombians regard it as a failure. Pastrana, a Conservative in origin[23], came to power with a clear mandate to resolve the long-running internal conflict, but by the end of his term in office was seen as somebody who had tried hard, but failed to engage the FARC in dialogue.

However, conditions at home and abroad began to change regarding the narcoguerrillas. Pastrana succeeded in making the world see the links between the responsibility of consumer nations, the nature of the armed rebellion and drug-trafficking. Politicians in Europe and Latin America began to turn against the guerrillas. At the same time, the FARC, and to a lesser extent the ELN, were stepping up recruitment[24], as was the regular army; finally managing to equal the rebels in numbers[25]. According to opinion polls, almost two thirds of the population supported US military intervention to resolve the conflict[26]. In the wake of September 11, the Bush administration showed itself willing to help Colombia’s counter insurgency.

Everything –the international context, military developments and public opinion– pointed to a political turning point and an escalation of the armed conflict. Álvaro Uribe Vélez, the former mayor of Medellín and governor of Antioquia, was the son of a landowner murdered by the FARC in the 1980s. He had built up a career through the Liberal Party. He had been accused while governor of working with right-wing paramilitaries through his Convivir rural self-defence programme for the peasantry. He had ties to the most conservative elements of the armed forces and landowners, but remained a member of the Liberal Party until the campaign to succeed Pastrana, when he began to distance himself from the party. Uribe called for a toughening of policy toward the guerrillas, but his party was reticent about this line, so he decided to stand as an independent. In short, Uribe proposed implementing his Convivir programme at a national level. This would involve strengthening the army and calling on the US for aid to do so. He called for an end to negotiation with the insurgents and a military solution. His campaign was also based on the renovation of the political system through institutional reform and the fight against poverty.

The official Liberal Party, the biggest in the country, proposed Horacio Serpa for the second time. By the end of 2001 he looked the sure winner. But the collapse of the peace process and his support for Pastrana changed things, leaving the field open for Uribe. The Conservative Party (PC) had been through an acute crisis in 2002, and its name was associated with the failure of the peace process. Days after the parliamentary elections, the head of the party, Carlos Holguín, stepped down (although he remains head of the party). Shortly after, presidential candidate Juan Camilo Restrepo withdrew his candidacy. Opinion polls gave him less than 1% of the vote. He also pointed to the support of many in his party for Uribe. This was the first time since 1849 that the Conservative Party had not presented a candidate. Instead, Uribe and Serpa both stood for the Liberal Party.

Certain tendencies could already be seen in the legislative elections that would present themselves in the presidential poll two months later. While the PL maintained its minority, thanks to its die-hard support, the appearance of a number of small parties split the vote. Congress was changed by the drop in support for the two main parties, and the subsequent formation of coalitions. Uribe, the clear winner, but with no party, was the catalyst for this change. Of the 104 seats in the Senate, 20 were occupied by ‘Official Liberals’ who followed the party line, a third group emerged identified as pro-Uribe, and made up of conservatives, former leftists, indigenous parties and regional politicians who had begun to support him during the March elections. Another third remained largely independent. As Murillo has pointed out[27], Uribe was the man to most benefit from this new makeup. The majority in Congress was a big boost to his proposals, particularly his ambitious aim to revoke the mandate of recently elected Congress members, and to reduce the number of legislators.

Figure 7. Colombia: 2002 Congressional Elections, by Political Party

Partido Liberal2,595,64031.3
Partido Conservador910,78811.0
Cambio Radical316,5163.8
Equipo Colombia192,0052.3
Convergencia Popular Cívica180,9142.2
Apertura Liberal162,6212.0
Movimiento Popular Unido127,4851.5
Movimiento de Salvación Nacional114,1931.4
Colombia Siempre109,1821.3
Participación Popular105,6411.3
Total valid votes8,292,852100
Spoiled or un-used1,896,07718.6

Source: Observatorio Electoral Latinoamericano. Prepared using data from the Registraduría Nacional de Colombia.

Figure 8. Colombia: Senate, by Political Party

Partido Liberal2,655,85529.1
Partido Conservador867,3409.5
Movimiento Nacional413,9034.5
Equipo Colombia285,1023.1
Movimiento Integración Popular260,5042.9
Colombia Siempre251,5902.8
Cambio Radical219,8012.4
Movimiento Popular Unido170,3261.9
Acción Laboral Moral146,6191.6
Frente Social y Político126,7771.4
Nueva Fuerza Democrática121,4241.3
Total valid votes9,122,822100

Source: Observatorio Electoral Latinoamericano. Prepared using data by the Registraduría Nacional del Estado Civil de Colombia.

On the eve of the May elections, the dissident liberal candidate continued to lead the opinion polls, but it was still unclear what would happen in the second electoral round. The results confirmed what the polls had reflected: Álvaro Uribe was elected with 54% of the vote, followed by Serpa with 32%. Luis Garzón of Polo Democrático came third, beating the independent candidate Noemí Sanín. Following two consecutive elections that had been resolved in the second round (1994 and 1998), the 2002 elections produced the most convincing result since 1986. The forecasts all showed that Uribe would win in the first round, and indeed he won even more votes than had been thought[28].

Figure 9. Colombia: 2002 Presidential Elections

Primero Colombia (Alvaro Uribe V.)5,862,65554.0
Partido Liberal (Horacio Serpa U.)3,514,77932.4
Polo Democrático (Luis Eduardo Garzón)680,2456.3
Movimiento Si Colombia (Noemí Sanín)641,8845.9
Total valid votes10,855,529100

Source: Observatorio Electoral Latinoamericano. Prapared using data by the  Registraduría Nacional del Estado Civil de Colombia.

Although turn out at 46.7% was low, it was the highest in a first round in many years. The low level of participation is an issue still to be resolved, even at the level of political analysis: it tends to be attributed to incomplete electoral registers, the high number of displaced people due to political violence, and to the control that the insurgents have over certain rural areas. But beyond identifying specific causes, the exclusion of the rural population lies at the heart of the problem. No solution to this serious blemish on Colombia’s democracy is in sight.

Figure 10. Colombia: Participation in the Presidential Elections, 1978-2002


Source: Observatorio Electoral Latinoamericano.

Other analysts say that the May 2002 elections were marked by tension and uncertainty, in large part produced by the rebels, who did their best to interrupt the political process and to confuse voters intending to vote for Uribe. However, this produced the opposite result, seemingly confirming the strong stance that Uribe was taking in confronting these groups. The presidential elections of 2002 were considered by most Colombians as a challenge to the armed groups. Threats of violence did nothing to dissuade people from voting for Uribe. Popular support for the recently elected president will be a challenge for Uribe, given the high expectations people have placed in him to return law and order and peace[29].

Dominican Republic: The PRD – from consolidation to dominance? (May 16: legislative and municipal elections)

Almost four million Dominicans were eligible to vote for 32 senators, 150 deputies, 125 mayors, 787 local councillors, and as many more deputies in elections that presented 11,000 candidates. As happens year after year, the traditional parties –the Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD), the Party for Dominican Liberation (PLD), and the Social Reformist Christian Party (PRSC)– took almost all votes. Nevertheless, some changes can be seen in the elections. Dominican politics was dominated during the second half of the twentieth century by Joaquín Balaguer, Juan Bosch and José Francisco Peña Gómez. The first, the leader of the PRSC, and the second, from the PRD (Bosch founded the party in 1939, and then left to form the PLD). Peña Gómez took over the PRD following Bosch’s departure, and was its leader until he died. Despite their age, Balaguer and Bosch showed no signs of flagging, and the two strongmen pulled in the votes election after election. Bosch died in 2001, followed by Balaguer a year later. He had been president seven times, and was a candidate in the 2000 elections despite his 94 years of age. Peña Gómez was the leader most in touch with the masses. After several attempts to win the presidency, he died only days after the 1998 elections.

In the 2002 elections, Balaguer, who had been the last surviving strongman in Dominican politics, was also absent. His death opened a crisis within the PRSC. The party had emerged in 1985 from the fusion of the traditional Reformist Party and the Social Christian Revolutionary Party. But his death sparked a debate on the need for renovation. But so far, no clear sign of a new direction had emerged that would allow it to present itself as a credible electoral choice. But Bosch’s PLD was also plunged into crisis, and now led by former president Leonel Fernández. With the death of their two legendary leaders, both parties were seriously weakened. The country had been showing strong growth for five years, and the governing PRD had consolidated its hold on power. It was no coincidence that three days after the death of Balaguer, Congress approved the re-introduction of a law allowing incumbent presidents to run for a second term. The way was open for Mejía.

Throughout 2001, the PRD was occupied in reforming the Constitution. Following the reform of 1994 and changes to the electoral law of 1997 and 1998, it was believed that the Constitution needed a thorough overhaul. Mejía’s objective was to extend parliament until 2004, thus allowing legislative and presidential elections to take place at the same time, as well as to restore presidential re-election.. However, the PLD and the PRSC, as well as many in the PRD, opposed allowing presidents to stand for more than one term of office.

Mejía formed a Constitutional Reform Commission represented by all political parties, as well as other civic organizations, and coordinated by a representative of the Catholic Church. The three main parties eventually agreed on the extension of parliament, but rejected presidential re-election. Nevertheless, in December of that year, the president persuaded Parliament to change the law. But a wave of protests, as well as fears of the possible international repercussions persuaded the Supreme Court to annul the proposal. The ‘counter-reform’ did not affect the PRD’s electoral results. And they won 42.2% of the legislative vote, and 41.4% of the municipal. The PLD came second, more than 10 points behind, but it did manage to take the capital –a traditional PRD stronghold–. For the first time, the left presented a single candidate, heading a 12-party coalition with three tickets: 16, the Polo Político MIUCA-Partido Comunista del Trabajo; 18, the Fuerza de la Revolución; and 19, the Partido Nueva Alternativa-Partido de los Trabajadores Dominicanos. Although they did not do well, they set a precedent. Following the victory of the PRD in the legislative and municipal elections of 1998, and the presidential poll of 2000, the party consolidated itself in its majority position, having won 27 of the 32 provinces in the country.

Figure 11. Dominican Republic: 2002 Elections, National Total

P. Revolución Dominicana (PRD)963,73542.2942,82041.4
P. Reformista Social Cristiano (PRSC)556,43124.4607,49126.6
Partido Liberación Dominicana (PLD)657,65828.8611,73226.8
Total valid votes2,283,4091002,279,705100
Spoiled and un-used88,1823.787,0643.7

Source: Observatorio Electoral Latinoamericano. Prepared using data from the JCE.

Figure 12. Dominican Republic: Electoral Participation, 2002

Total eligible voters4,594,9411004,644,791100
Total number of votes2,371,59151.62,366,76950.9

Source: Observatorio Electoral Latinoamericano. Prepared using data from the JCE.

Participation rose by about 1 percentage point on the previous elections (presidential elections tend to attract around two thirds of the electorate), despite a campaign to encourage people to vote. Many attributed the low turn out, correctly in all probability, to the lack of interest that most Dominicans feel toward the legislative elections generally.

Despite the presence of international observers, differences still arose between supporters of the candidates[30]. A bulletin issued early in the process that annoyed all parties brought about the closure of the counting process for several hours by the National District Electoral Board. Despite this, there were no major incidents, and in general terms, order was maintained at all the voting centres, both rural and urban. For the first time a system using a closed, but unblocked ballot was used. Until the 1998 elections, the ballots had been blocked. This time around voters used the ‘preferential’ system, whereby they made their choice from a list of candidates provided by each party[31].

Voters in the Distrito Nacional and the Province of Santo Domingo used the new system, marking the face of the deputy of their choice on the ballot paper. The figures for both areas were similar: of the 265,755 votes counted in the Distrito Nacional, 164,110 went for the preferential system, a percentage of 61.7%. In the province of Santo Domingo, of the 318,621 votes counted, 194,413 used the preferential system, or 61%. Patronage remains a problem, and the elections saw no reduction in the practice of handing out jobs or other favours to the party faithful. The three main parties are guilty of such practices, and this is an issue that will have to be addressed if the quality of democracy is to improve in the future.

Bolivia: the role of ethnicity, and changes to the party system (June 30, presidential and legislative)

As René Mayorga[32] has pointed out, the Bolivian presidential elections of 2002 were the most uncertain and unpredictable in many years. Economic stagnation and growing social unrest led by peasant coca growers provided the catalyst for major changes to the political scene. First came the decision by Hugo Banzer to stand down from the presidency in August 2001. In May 2002 he died. This effectively brought out the collapse of the Nationalist Democratic Action party (AND), which the former general had created and led. The party, along with the Nationalist Revolutionary Movement (MNR) of Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, and the Leftist Revolutionary Movement of Jaime Paz Zamora, had dominated politics in Bolivia through a range of coalitions for 15 years. This three-party domination could no longer function as before. Other parties, such as the Solidarity Civic Union (UCS) and CONDEPA, the Homeland Conscience, were lesser partners in the group.

Another aspect that characterized the electoral process was the appearance of new political forces, and their polarization with respect to the parties that had been governing Bolivia for two decades –a polarization that journalists and analysts called sístémicos versus asistémicosAsistémicos was used to describe those parties that define themselves not just for their opposition to traditional politics, but also for their populist approach to economic policy. The better known within these groups are those in the indigenous movement and the coca growers –the Movement to Socialism (MAS) of Evo Morales, the Pachakuti Movement of Felipe Quispe, and the New Republican Force (NFR) of Captain Manfred Reyes Villa–. Closely linked to this trend was the third factor that played a key role: the appearance of ethno-politics.

What really stands out within this asístemico polarity is the rise of the indigenous-coca growers movement; a force that was barely felt during the 1997 elections, but this time round garnered one third of votes. Its leaders not only achieved electoral success and political representation, but also lead a protest movement combining activism against the mainstream parties and the market economy with particular demands regarding the cultivation of coca, land ownership, and indigenous identity. At these elections, they succeeded in making their demands heard.

Amid this climate of uncertainty and change, the elections broke down into a fight between four candidates, none of which had the advantage, although most surveys put Manfred Reyes Villa of the NFR, a former member of the military and mayor of Cochabamba, ahead. He was also known for his criticism of the decision by the former president Sánchez de Lozada to privatize state enterprises. The results were a surprise: the winner was Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada of the MNR with 22.46% of the votes, followed by Evo Morales of the MAS, and who had been last in the pre-election surveys. Sánchez de Lozada’s 22% and the 21% garnered by Morales show how split the vote was. Reyes Villa came third with a minimally smaller number of votes. Overall participation was the same as in previous contests, with 72% of eligible voters turning out. This percentage was slightly lower than the elections of the 1980s.

Figure 13. Bolivia: 2002 General Elections, National Total

Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario (MNR)624,12622.46
Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS)581,88420.94
Nueva Fuerza Republicana (NFR)581,16320.91
Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria (MIR)453,37516.31
Movimiento Indígena Pachacuti (MIP)169,2396.09
Unión Cívica Solidaridad (UCS)153,2105.51
Total valid votes2,778,808100

Source: Observatorio Electoral Latinoamericano. Prepared using data from the CNE.

Figure 14. Bolivia: Electoral Participation, National Total, 2002

Total eligible voters4,155,055100
Total number of votes2,994,06572.05

Source: Observatorio Electoral Latinoamericano. Prepared using data from the CNE.

Congress was given a clean sweep with a new broom. The results of the elections (the total of plural nominations –from the general vote, and the single nominations, elected in each electoral district–) shows that if the MNR and the MIR together make up 39% of the presidential vote, they also add up to 48% of the deputies, and 61.5% of senators. The disproportionate advantage achieved by the two traditional parties marked a milestone[33]. According to the Bolivian Constitution, Congress elects the president of the republic from between the two first majorities in the event that neither candidate won an absolute majority. The new Congress members, who gathered on August 4, elected Sánchez de Lozada thanks to an alliance between the MNR, most of the MIR, and the lesser partners of the AND and UCS, adding up to 84 votes out of 156 (that is to say, 54%). Evo Morales won the support of 43 Congress members (27% of the total) from the MAS, MIP, and other leftists.

This unprecedented result was a clear sign of the arrival of ethno-politics in Bolivia: when most of the indigenous members of Congress (25%) arrived to take their oath, they wore their traditional dress, and refused to speak Spanish; making long speeches in Aymara and Quechua. Congress members of the winning coalition had to find interpreters at the last minute to be able to follow proceedings. The NFR decided to annul their vote, supporting Reyes Villa, despite him not having made it through to the second round.

Figure 15. Bolivia: Composition of Congress, 2002

M. Nac. Revolucionario (MNR)3627.71142.3
Mov. al Socialismo (MAS)2720.8726.9
M. Izq. Revolucionaria (MIR)2620.0519.2
N. Fza. Republicana (NFR)2519.227.7
M.I. Pachacuti (MIP)64.6
U. Cívica Solidaridad (UCS)53.8
A. Dem. Nacionalista (ADN)43.113.8
P. Socialista (PS)10.8

Source: Observatorio Electoral Latinoamericano.

Figure 16. Bolivia: Congressional Elections

PartySánchez de LozadaMorales AymaBlank & Invalid
M. Nac. Revolucionario (MNR)47
M. Izq. Revolucionaria (MIR)2722
U. Cívica Solidaridad (UCS)5
A. Dem. Nacionalista (ADN)5
Mov. Al Socialismo (MAS)34
M.I. Pachacuti (MIP)6
N. Fuerza Republicana (NFR)27
P. Socialista (PS)1

Source: Observatorio Electoral Latinoamericano.

As noted above, the election reveals a number of important changes in voting composition. But these changes did not particularly affect the traditional parties of the MNR and the MIR, who put together the coalition that still governs in Bolivia. Instead, it was the opposition that was most affected. Aside from the collapse of AND, and the rise of the NFR –something which some analysts attribute to their respective leaders’ links to the military– we see that CONDEPA and UCS, both of which are built around their charismatic leaders, saw their presence fall dramatically.

Mayorga argues that the main change to the party system lies not so much in the form of things, as in the emergence of a new ‘asystemic’ populism, which takes over from the previous version. His analysis does not underestimate, however, the underlying causes for the rise of indigenous politics[34]. An important effect of these elections was a territorial redistribution, and the regionalization of the vote. Although the MNR and the MIR (the latter to a lesser degree) are national parties, these elections produced a territorial break in two important regions: the relative majority of the MAS in four of the five departments where the indigenous population is concentrated, and the relative victory of the MNR in the eastern and Amazonian departments[35].

Figure 17. Bolivia: Changes in the Party System

A. Dem. Nacionalista (ADN)22.263.39-18.87
M.Nac.Revolucionario (MNR)18.2022.46+4.26
M.Izq.Revolucionaria (MIR)16.7616.31-0.45
Conciencia de Patria (Condepa)17.160.37-16.79
U.Cívica Solidaridad (UCS)16.115.51-10.60
Mov. al Socialismo (MAS)20.94+20.94
M.I.Pachacuti (MIP)0.846.09+5.25
N.Fza.Republicana (NFR)20.91+20.91

Source: Observatorio Electoral Latinoamericano.

These new realities challenge the ability of Sánchez de Lozada to govern. Although the MNR and the MIR are still important, they saw their vote increase after all, the rise of the MAS and MIP, which come from a different political culture to the ‘democratic pact’ that characterized politics until now. This raises many questions, particularly because these parties are also involved in social protest, which at times has been violent, and because they are closer to the logic and dynamic of a protest movement than they are to the practices of institutional party politics.

The first months of the new government did not provide any auspicious signs that these groups were about to change in their outlook and approach; if this tendency persists, then one can only hope that the coalition supporting the presidency is able to provide stability.

Brasil: Finally, the left wins office (October 6, first round of presidential, state, and legislative elections, October 27, second round)

There are 115 million voters in Brazil, and the general elections in the world’s eighth-largest economy saw 1,656 posts up for renewal, starting with the president’s job, as well as 513 deputies, 64 senators, 27 governors, and 1,050 local legislators. The government of Fernando Henrique Cardoso had made some mistakes, but he was one of the few presidents in the region in recent years to leave office with a relatively high popularity rating. The elections would not only determine the future for Brazil, but they would also have hemispheric repercussions, encapsulating the image of the continent following the collapse of Argentina.

Brazilian politics is complex, and characterized by a wide range of parties operating solely at the regional level. These elections brought changes to the coalitions that had dominated politics during the 1990s. In the two previous elections, won by Cardoso, the fight was polarized between his wide-ranging center-right coalition and the Workers Party (PT) candidate, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who had stood each time since 1989, increasing his support over the years, and winning 31% of the vote in 1998.

By 2002 the PT had matured, accumulating experience over the years through regional and municipal administrations. The coalition built around Lula took in all the parties of the left, and included a Liberal running mate. This was effectively a announcement of the ample support it would have in parliament, backed by the explicit recommendation of former presidents Sarney and Franco. At the same time, it was clear that the coalition around Cardoso was collapsing fast.

The break with the Liberal Front Party (PFL), and a clash with the conservative senator Magalhaes, as well as arguments over the pre-candidacy of Roseanna Sarney, and differences with huge numbers of PMDB supporters, all generated problems that weakened the long-standing coalition. Two center-left candidates, Ciro Gomes and Anthony Garotinho presented a minor threat to Lula. On election day, Lula won an important victory, garnering 46.4% of the vote, leaving his nearest rival Serra in second place with 23.2%. Garotinho was a surprise third place, winning eight%, while Ciro came in fourth with 12%.

Figure 18. Brazil: 2002 Presidential Elections, National Total

Candidate/Party1st Round(Oct-6-02)%2nd Round(Oct-27-02)%
Luiz Inácio ‘Lula’ da Silva, PT-PL39,454,69246.452,793,36461.3
José Serra, PSDB-PMDB19,705,06123.233,370,73938.7
Anthony Garotinho, PSB15,179,87917.9
Ciro Gomes, PPS-PDT-PTB10,170,66612.0
José Maria, PSTU402,2320.5
Rui Costa Pimenta, PCO38,6190.0
Total valid votes84,951,14910086,164,103100

Source: Observatorio Electoral Latinoamericano. Prepared using data from the TSE.

In the second round, which took place three weeks later, Lula won 61% of the vote, 20 points ahead of José Serra. In the end, Lula won the support of most of the Brazilian political elite, including Gomes and Garotinho. Lula’s story is a fairytale come true: an un-educated former machinist who rises to become president of the nation. These elections saw a higher-than-usual turnout, even in a country where voting is obligatory. And even if the second round saw a slight fall off, in absolute terms, the number of valid votes was higher. 

Figure 19. Brazil: 2002 Electoral Participation, National Total

Total eligible voters115,253,816100
Total number of votes – 1st Round94,804,12682.3
Total number of votes – 2nd Round91,664,25979.5

Source: Observatorio Electoral Latinoamericano. Prepared using data from the TSE.

The legislative elections were characterized by regionalism. The PT won most seats in Congress, although in%age terms it gained little: 17.3% of the Senatorial vote; and 18% of the Congressional vote, which translated into 139 seats in Congress, and 22 in the Senate. This was done by a coalition of nine parties: five from the left (PSB, PDT, PPS, PCB, and the PV); and five from the center right (PL, PTB, PMN, PSL).

But the real basis for Lula’s government lay in his potential allies, the PMDB and the PPB. These two centrist parties have 113 deputies between them, as well as 21 senators. They could support Lula in passing some of the key laws he needed to pass. By this calculation, Lula now had 72% of the Congress, and 64% of the Senate behind him. However, he cannot count on either set of allies’ unconditional support. In reality, his coalition is more delicate than was Cardoso’s.

Figure 20. Brazil: Composition of Senate, 1998–2006


Source: Observatorio Electoral Latinoamericano; Alcántara Sáez (1999).

Figure 21. Brazil: Composition of Congress, 1998–2006

PC do B122.3

Source: Observatorio Electoral Latinoamericano; Alcántara Sáez (1999).

Opposition in both houses comes from the PSDB and the PFL, with 27% of the Congress, and 37% of the Senate. But it is at the state level that the governing coalition is weakest. The traditional parties and the opposition control the majority of states, as well as the most heavily populated and the most important. This is an important factor to bear in mind.

Figure 22. Brazil: States by Political Party, 2002–06

PSDB7São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Ceará, Paraíba, Rondônia, Goiás y Pará
PMDB5Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, Paraná, Pernambuco y el DF
PFL4Bahia, Tocantins, Maranhão y Sergipe
PSB4Rio de Janeiro, Espírito Santo, Rio Grande do Norte y Alagoas
PT3Mato Grosso do Sul, Piauí y Acre
PPS2Amazonas y Mato Grosso

Source: Observatorio Electoral Latinoamericano.

Voter intention surveys, as in the three previous elections, accurately reflected the final result of an election in which 90 million people voted. In the figure that corresponds to the first round, on the basis of weekly averages of four pollsters, a clear tendency toward Lula began to show itself from the beginning[37]. What changed was the ‘no-Lula’ vote, which at different times was led by Ciro Gomes, José Serra, and Anthony Garotinho. The surveys generally were accurate as regards the second round, although Serra’s performance was better than had been predicted.

Figure 23. Brazil: Voter Intention Surveys, 2nd Round

FirmIbopeToledo& Asoc.VoxPopuliDatafolhaIbopeVoxPopuliCNT/SensusDatafolhaDatafolhaCNT/Sensus
Dates:19 to 21/1019 to 21/1010 & 11/1011/1012 to 14/1014 & 15/1014 & 16/1017/1023/1022 to 24/10
Undecided5%5.5%6%6%5%7%— 3%6% —

(*) Includes undecided.

Source: Observatorio Electoral Latinoamericano.

Figure 24. Brazil: Development of Voting Intentions 1st Round

Source: average weekly from Ibope, DataFolha, Vox Populi and CNT/Sensus.

These elections used more than 414,000 electronic voting booths, with numbered keyboards to vote, and a screen showing a photograph of the candidates to help the illiterate. The urns were connected to the Internet to regional counting centers, as well as keeping their own copy. This system meant that a provisional count could be made within three hours of the polling stations closing, through a centralized counting system that was scrutinized by all parties.

The key feature of the presidential elections in Brazil was a change in popular thinking about the chances of the left in Latin American politics. As Paramio[38] has pointed out, the triumph of the PT, with more than 60% of the second round vote, would seem to suggest that a similar shift to the left could take place in future elections. The enormous economic, political, and demographic importance of Brazil within Latin America means that Lula’s win will have had a similarly enormous influence on the political process throughout the continent. It also means that his presidency will be under considerable scrutiny[39]

Ecuador: a return to democracy and a split vote (October 20, legislative and municipal, as well as first round of presidential elections – second round November 24)

Amid a climate of crisis, eleven candidates ran for the presidency: the largest number of candidates since 1992. On October 20, Ecuadorians were to elect deputies, provincial and municipal councillors, mayors, and deputies to the Andean Parliament.

Ecuador is one of the poorest countries in the Americas, and has been in crisis for several years. In 2000, the economy went over to the dollar. But even if this halted inflation, it also saw a drastic fall in the income of the country’s poorest. Protest and economic demands were articulated by a new force, the indigenous movement, who claim to represent 50% of the population. They had already shown their clout by overthrowing president Mahuad in January 2000.

Since that time, the country has been undergoing an institutional transformation under Vice-President Gustavo Noboa. The remains of the former system that was run from Quito and Guayaquil fought for a place alongside new formations and parties based on personalities. As a result of the economic and social crisis, the indigenous movement was able to dominate the elections.

The key feature of the elections was criticism of the role of the established political parties. Public opinion was clearly in favor of the arrival of new faces on the political scene. These figures had few clear policies, and their appeal lay in their personality. Few were in favor of reverting back to the former currency, or implementing any potentially traumatic measures. They were essentially, ‘anti-political’ and anti-American.

There were common themes to the rhetoric of these new arrivals, but they came from different backgrounds, as was noted by Simón Pachano[40]. The only pro-business candidate was Alvaro Noboa, a banana magnate. Lucio Gutiérrez, who had led the rebellion that had overthrown Mahuad, was an intriguing mix of populist, leftist, nationalist, and a certain military authoritarianism.

Former president Rodrigo Borja was the face of the establishment, while León Roldós called for a renewal of the country’s social democratic tradition. A wide range of ideologies was represented, but while the regional factor had been important in the last elections, this time round it was not a factor.

According to the opinion polls, only six candidates stood any chance of winning: the four already mentioned, as well as Javier Neira of the Social Christian Party (PSC), Jacobo Bucaram of the Ecuadorian Roldosista Party (PRE). Until the last elections, the PSC, PRE, the Popular Democracy left-wing alliance (which had carried Mahuad to power), and the centre-left coalition of Democratic Left, had been consolidating their position, and jointly won 80% of the vote. Furthermore, they were regionally based – the first two along the coast, and the other two in the mountain areas.

Nevertheless, for the first time since 1979, the second round of the elections saw two ‘outsider’ candidates running for president: Gutiérrez, via the Patriotic Society Party (PSP), and Álvaro Noboa of the Institutional National Action Renovation Party (PRIAN). The two represented recently created parties, and managed to garner a little more than one third of votes. The traditional parties however, dominated Congress, meaning that if either won, they would face serious problems in forming a government and then running the country.

The PSP candidate, Lucio Gutiérrez, whose party is made up mainly of former members of the armed forces, was supported by the Pachakutic New Country Movement of Pluri-national Unity, which could rally the majority of peasant and indigenous organizations (CONAIE, FENOCIN, the Confederación del Seguro Campesino, among others), as well as trades unions such as CEOSL, and movements like the CMS, which was led by Napoleón Saltos, and the traditional left as represented by several parties whose roots lay in the Communist Party such as the PCE, the PCMLE, and others.

The popularity of Gutiérrez among Ecuador’s poorest was largely based on his leadership of the indigenous-military revolt of January 2000, when for a few hours he led the National Salvation Junta. Gutiérrez’ campaign was built around his attacks on corruption and smuggling, as well as on an emotive and populist discourse. Noboa is a powerful businessman who was able to finance his own campaign – the most costly in the election – and which was largely based on the idea of transferring efficient management of a business to that of a country. Like Gutiérrez, he took advantage of being an outsider, and the poor image that traditional politicians have among voters.

Six candidates won between 12% and 21% of the vote. Gutiérrez and Noboa went through to the second round one month later. Gutiérrez was the surprise of the election, with no opinion polls predicting his victory. León Roldós, vice-president under Osvaldo Hurtado, came third, heading an unlikely alliance of socialists, former conservatives and Christian Democrats. The PSC and PRE came fifth and sixth respectively, after Borja.

Figure 25. Ecuador: 2002 Presidential Elections, National Total

Candidate/Party1st Round(Oct-20-02)%2nd Round(Nov-24-02)%
PSP/MUPP-NP (Gutiérrez Borbúa)943,12320.642,803,24354.79
PRIAN (Noboa Pontón)794,61417.392,312,85445.21
RP (Roldós Aguilera)703,59315.40
ID (Borja Ceballos)638,14213.97
PSC (Neira Menéndez)553,10612.11
PRE (Bucaram Ortíz)544,68811.92
Total valid votes4,569,1821005,116,097100

Source: Observatorio Electoral Latinoamericano. Prepared using data from the TSE.

The polls clearly pointed to the need for a second round, but they failed to take into account the technical draw, as well as the split vote. Many people thought right up until the last moment that former president Borja would be in the recount, but he ended up fourth. In the second round the polls were right to put Gutiérrez ahead; he took 55% of the vote, but they underestimated Noboa’s poor performance.

The last poll carried out by a company called Informe Confidencial was based on 1,200 interviewees. This gave Gutiérrez 55.5% of the vote, and Noboa 20%. The Cedatos-Gallup poll showed 45% for Gutiérrez, and 30% for Noboa. The analysts say that the regional factor was not important in the second round, although there is no data to show to what extent this diminished. It may well be that it played a role, given that Noboa is from the coast, where 49% of the electorate live, and Gutiérrez from the mountain regions, where 47% of voters reside.

In the first round, only 35% of voters turned up (2,855,000), while 13% spoiled their vote. This was a record, and highlights the concerns mentioned above. Participation increased by more than half a million votes in the second round. This was the opposite to what happened in the other two elections that year. The legislative elections demonstrated the tendency toward a split vote. The PSC won 24 of the Congress’ 100 seats, giving it the most, despite coming fifth in the presidential elections. It also did well in the elections to the Andean Parliament.

Figure 26. Ecuador: 2002 Electoral Participation, National Total

Total eligible voters8,154,425100
Total number of votes – 1st Round5,298,58165.0
Total number of votes – 2nd Round5,807,10971.2

Source: Observatorio Electoral Latinoamericano. Prepared using data from the TSE.

Figure 27. Ecuador 2002: Composition of Parliament (2003-07)

PSP/MUPP-NP and allies (1)2121

(1) The block representing the government is made up of 6-7 deputies; we add here a series of allied indigenous groups from the left, most of whom do not belong to Gutiérrez’ party.

Source: Observatorio Electoral Latinoamericano. Prepared using data from the TSE.

The results have forced a rethink on the process of governing. The political parties, although weakened and in crisis, are still very much alive, and a powerful presence in Congress and at local level. The new distribution of parties in Congress points to the need for alliances and coalitions, as well as problems for a president whose support comes from the left, but who will have to pass unpopular measures from the start of his term in office.

Figure 28. Ecuador: 2002 Elections to the Andean Parliament, National Total (2003-07)

MCNP (1)736,49420.30
PSP/ MUPP-NP365,19010.06
MPD (2)186,7415.15
Total valid votes3,628,764100

(1) Movimiento Ciudadanos por un Nuevo País, a municipal party.

(2) Movimiento Popular Democrático, a left-wing party that supported Gutiérrez.

Source: Observatorio Electoral Latinoamericano. Prepared using data from the TSE.

The second-round campaign produced a candidate who showed a willingness to reach agreement with a wide range of sectors, both at home and abroad, but who soon ran into problems with his leftist allies. The presence of members of indigenous movements in his government, while attempting to keep the United States and multi-lateral lending institutions happy, suggest a delicate balancing act will be necessary if he is to run a country on the edge of chaos.

Given the situation it was no surprise that accusations of fraud surfaced. The main candidates, particularly the two that went through to the second round, reported irregularities in the counting process. In response, observers were sent in from the OAS and the European Union. Both concurred that the elections had passed off without major incidents, and played down the accusations of fraud, although the EU noted that a series of irregularities had prompted the suspension of voting in some areas[41].

Peru: a new regional map at the political level (November 17, regional, provincial, and municipal elections)

Peru’s electoral calendar has been a busy one over the last four years, and there were fears of ‘voter fatigue’ at the November 17 elections. These polls would be important because they were to initiate a process of regionalization. The 1998 and 1999 municipal elections were followed by two rounds of presidential elections – and which took place amid accusations of fraud on the part of then-president Fujimori. These were repeated in 2001, with another two rounds of presidential elections.

The process of regionalization began the day before the election with the passing of a law to this end by the president. This created 25 new regions that corresponded to the 24 departments and the El Callao Constitutional Province that existed previously. Their names have been kept, along with their territorial demarcations, but regional governors will now administer them. Furthermore, the larger regions will also acquire new responsibilities and some degree of fiscal autonomy. From a political point of view, the aim is to take the pressure off the central government. Peru’s centralist tradition has always placed considerable responsibility in the president. Behind the measures lies the belief that a greater role for the regions in the political process will improve government.

The elections on November 17 would see the appointment of 25 new presidents and vice-presidents of the newly created regions, along with 229 members of regional councils, and who would be charged with the job of decentralizing the country. These elections would also differ from the 1998 polls under Fujimori in that there would be no second round. Mayors would be decided simply on the basis of the most votes.

The 25 new regional governments were elected before the law regulating them had been implemented. Congress had already approved it, but the cabinet had not ratified it. Despite this, the regional elections took place without incident. Observer missions, among them one from the Organization of American States, highlighted the good organization and running of the electoral process.

The elections were a complicated affair. There were 1,634 district councillors (among them mayors), 194 provincial councillors, and for the first time, the direct election of regional councillors, with a president, vice president, and councillor. This represented 12,138 municipal authorities, among them mayors and aldermen, as well as 278 at regional level, among them presidents, vice-presidents, and councillors for the 25 regions. In all, 105,000 candidates divided between thousands of lists.

The outcome was that APRA won 24.1% of the vote, followed by Possible Peru (PP) with 13.5% of votes, trailed by the National Unity party (UN – an alliance that includes the Social Christians) with 8.6%. It is not easy to identify a clear winner. Perhaps this was the opposition APRA, which now controls 12 of the 25 regions. But its vote at all other levels was much lower.

A clear loser did emerge though. This was the PP, the part of the president. It won only one region, and came fourth in the provincial and district polls. In Lima, Luis Castañeda of National Action – an alliance that includes the Popular Christian Party, as well as other lesser forces) won, beating off Alberto Andrade of We are Peru, and who failed to go through to the second round. Participation was higher than expected, despite the ‘voter fatigue’ mentioned earlier. Around 84% of voters turned out. This was higher than expected, given that these were local elections, and little information was available to voters about the full meaning of the regional restructuring.

Figure 29. Peru: 2002 Local Elections, National Total

Partido Aprista Peruano1,800,56324.11,300,82212.1966,06513.1
Perú Posible1,007,40513.5834,1147.8532,1267.2
Alianza Unidad Nacional643,8598.61,900,37117.71,103,35215.0
Somos Perú466,1026.21,575,41514.71,113,75115.1
Acción Popular441,3905.9512,6434.8337,7484.6
Unión por el Perú – F. Amplio418,0465.6245,6672.3174,1052.4
Fuerza Democrática234,6133.1242,0922.3128,6911.7
Movimiento Nueva Izquierda215,2392.9217,5002.0129,8841.8
Alianza para el Progreso207,1102.8137,2061.366,8300.9
Renacimiento Andino130,4061.7154,6521.4112,5971.5
Frente Indep. Moralizador102,7351.490,9220.851,3870.7
Total valid votes7,468,00210010,745,5021007,367,878100

Source: Observatorio Electoral Latinoamericano. Prepared using data from Fernando Tuesta Soldevilla of the Oficina Nacional de Procesos Electorales (ONPE).

Figure 30. Peru: 2002 Electoral Participation, National Total

eligible voters
number of votes

Source: Observatorio Electoral Latinoamericano. Prepared using data from Fernando Tuesta Soldevilla of the Oficina Nacional de Procesos Electorales (ONPE).

The local nature of the elections favoured a split among voters, unlike in the 2001 presidential elections, when four parties garnered 96.4% of the vote. This time around, the four-most voted parties won an average of 52.4% in the provincial and district elections.

The elections show that all the national parties saw their ability to act seriously curtailed, with the appearance of new forces and personalities from the regions, who now control 28% of the regions, and more than 40% of the provinces and districts. Another characteristic of the new map is that while a wide range of parties hold posts at national, regional, provincial, and municipal levels, none of them have a truly national presence.

Figure 31. Peru: A New Regional Political Map

Partido Aprista Peruano1248.03417.519912.2
Perú Posible14.0126.219211.8
Alianza Unidad Nacional126.21408.6
Somos Perú14.0199.81438.8
Acción Popular115.71046.4
Unión por el Perú – F. Amplio28.063.1342.1
Fuerza Democrática31.5362.2
Movimiento Nueva Izquierda14.031.5281.7
Alianza para el Progreso0.0171.0
Renacimiento Andino52.6271.7
Frente Indep. Moralizador14.021.0191.2

Source: Observatorio Electoral Latinoamericano. Prepared using data from Fernando Tuesta Soldevilla of the Oficina Nacional de Procesos Electorales (ONPE).

Figure 32. Peru: Few National and Many Regional Parties

Partido Aprista Peruano92%24.193.8%12.189.3%13.1
Perú Posible88%13.592.8%7.892.2%7.2
Alianza Unidad Nacional88%8.683%17.771.8%15.0
Somos Perú80%6.264.4%14.753.8%15.1
Acción Popular72%5.979.4%4.867.3%4.6
Unión por el Perú – F. Amplio52%5.638.7%2.326.9%2.4
Fuerza Democrática36%3.124.7%2.320%1.7
Movimiento Nueva Izquierda64%2.952%2.031%1.8
Alianza para el Progreso16%2.814.4%1.39.8%0.9
Renacimiento Andino24%1.727.3%1.421.5%1.5
Frente Indep. Moralizador8%1.411.3%0.812.2%0.7

(a) Extent of participation of party at regional, provincial and district level.

(b) Results obtained.

Source: Observatorio Electoral Latinoamericano. Prepared using data from Fernando Tuesta Soldevilla of the Oficina Nacional de Procesos Electorales (ONPE).

As can be seen from the previous figure, which compares the national presence of parties with the number of votes obtained, only the APRA, the PP, and to a lesser extent National Unity, can claim a real presence at national level. A second group of parties has a limited presence on the national stage, and then there is a third group of parties (not included in this figure) who are active only at the local level.


In general, all the elections reflect the political and economic crisis that has hit the region. A key feature has been that voters have turned away from the traditional parties, and opted for new forces. A mix of a ‘punishment vote’ and frustration seems to have been the attitude of many, and this has created some unexpected results, both for the democratic process and then for the ability of the president to govern[42].

In Bolivia and Ecuador, the ethnic question took on unprecedented relevance. There was no indication that Evo Morales, the leader of the coca-growing peasants, would reach second place, and few believed that Lucio Gutiérrez, the former coup leader with leftist leanings would sweep the board in Ecuador. In both cases, the indigenous movements are at the root of the success of the presidential candidates. Ethno-politics has arrived as a force to be reckoned with in Latin American politics.

In both cases, it is clear that voters have punished the traditional parties that had previously dominated the system. In Ecuador, Gutiérrez was not only a new candidate facing off against the established political class. He also had a reputation for being close to the people thanks to his role in the coup that overthrew Jamil Mahuad in January 2000. His victory is largely due to the disappointment of an electorate that has not shared in the benefits of economic growth (60% of the population lives below the poverty line), and that is looking for a leader to address their needs.

In Bolivia, the parties that for two decades dominated the political system have now been replaced by new forces supported by the majority indigenous and mixed race sections of the population. Protest politics, largely led by the Aymara and Quechua peoples, has become a political force to contend with.

From now on, the system created by the MNR, the MIR, and the AND, and which had been the basis for many coalitions, was no longer guaranteed. Two new parties, the MAS of Evo Morales, and the NFR of Manfred Reyes Villa[43], would join with two of the traditional forces to constitute the new scenario, with all the challenges this presupposes for the running of the country.

In Brazil, Lula’s victory reflected an important change in priorities for a large part of the electorate. Lula was able to forge alliances across a wide range of the political spectrum, and also allay fears about his leftist origins. But the real reason for his victory was that voters wanted a candidate that would address the country’s grave social problems rather than simply promising economic growth.

Lula’s campaign addressed such basic issues as reducing poverty, social inequality, and hunger. This struck a chord with an electorate worn down by economic problems. At the same time, as Paramio[44] has pointed out, the victory of Lula in Brazil will have changed attitudes about the chances of the left in politics in Latin America.

In Colombia, a dissident from the Liberal Party – which has traditionally alternated power with the Conservative Party – won the presidency in the first round. Álvaro Uribe’s campaign presented him as a strong candidate prepared to take on the guerrillas following the failure of his predecessor to negotiate a peaceful settlement with the armed activists. The Colombian example shows the frustration of a population worn down by a conflict that has damaged not only the economy, but also made life hard for many people, and which previous administrations had been unable to resolve.

The results of the parliamentary elections, held two months before the presidential poll, were tough on the traditional parties. They then lost further support. Many of the Liberal and Conservative candidates sympathized with Uribe, or followed his lead to declare themselves  independents. The Conservative Party did badly, and was riven by internal fighting.

The electoral results in Costa Rica are another example of the loss of appeal that traditional parties have suffered, as well as a growing apathy on the part of the electorate toward national politics. The winner early on was clearly going to be Ottón Solís, the National Liberation Party (PLN) dissident. The Citizens’ Action Party (PAC) emerged to take 25% of the vote, taking away support from the traditional parties, with the result that the Parliament was split between several smaller parties.

For the first time, a presidential election went through to a second round in Costa Rica. The winner was Abel Pacheco of the Christian Social Unity Party (PUSC). His victory was attributed in part to the split vote. The National Liberation Party (PLN) was the big loser in the elections. Another first was the holding of local elections on a separate date to the presidential poll. Voters were generally disinterested, and turn out was the lowest ever. A new electronic voting system was successfully tried out during the elections.

The Peruvian regional elections saw the first elections after the creation of 25 new regions; part of a process of decentralization that will devolve administrative and fiscal power to the regions. The elections produced a high turnout. The vote was split, and the ruling party was only able to win one of the regions. APRA benefited most from the split vote, winning 12 regions, although its overall vote was lower than in previous polls.

Two aspects stand out in the elections held in the Dominican Republic: the worsening crisis in the PRSC following the death of Joaquín Balaguer in 2002. At the same time, the PRD strengthened its position, and is now the major political force in the country. These elections also saw the use of a new closed, but unblocked ballot paper, allowing voters to exercise their preference from a list of candidates for each party.

Finally, the regional elections in Nicaragua were dominated by indigenous movements. Turn out was very low, and organization suffered as a result of the crisis within the Supreme Electoral Council.

An overall analysis reveals the following key characteristics: with the exception of Nicaragua and Costa Rica, turn out was the same as in previous years. In Colombia, a country with a traditionally low turn out on polling day, 42.9% of the electorate voted in the parliamentary elections, and 46.5% in the presidential elections. This is slightly higher than at the last elections (44% and 41% respectively).

Brazil, Bolivia, and the Dominican Republic maintained traditional voter participation levels. Peru saw an 80% participation, while in Ecuador; the first round brought a poor turn out, although the second round produced a record number of participants.

Figure 33. Electoral Participation, 2002

CountryType of ElectionElectoral Participation 2002(%)
BoliviaGeneral June 3072
BrazilGeneral (1st round) October 6Presidential (2nd round) October 278280
ColombiaLegislatives March 10Presidential May 264346
Costa RicaGeneral (1st round) February 3Presidential (2nd round) April 7Municipal December 1696123
EcuadorGeneral (1st round) October 20Presidential (2nd round) November 246571
PeruRegional, provincial and municipal November 1783
Dominican RepublicLegislative and municipal May 1651

Second rounds were necessary in every presidential election except for Colombia, where Uribe won in the first round. In Costa Rica, the emergence of a third force that attracted a lot of votes forced a second round. This was the first time this had been necessary.

In Bolivia, the presidential race was so close that Congress had to appoint the winner. 

With the exception of Brazil, every election saw the emergence of new electoral forces. As noted earlier, these new parties won support from large sectors of an electorate long-tired with the traditional forces. This was particularly the case with Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia, and Costa Rica, with the corresponding changes to the make up of their Congresses and the challenges fragmentation will bring to the process of government.

Another outcome of most of the elections held in 2002 was a change in the composition of Congress. In Costa Rica, three main parties won more or less equal numbers of seats, with a smaller, fourth party able to swing the balance in any negotiations. In Ecuador, the governing party did not win a majority, and Congress is still controlled by the traditional parties. This will create problems for the government in pushing through its program.

Brazil is used to the presence of a large number of parties in Congress, as well as at the regional level. Lula’s victory did not however give his party a strong presence in Congress or at regional level, which will mean the need for alliances and coalitions across the political spectrum. A similar situation exists in Colombia and Bolivia, with particular emphasis on the impact of ethnic-based parties on the composition of parliament in the latter case. With the exception of Costa Rica, the ruling party lost power.

In short, the main characteristics in most countries were higher abstention rates, popular support for new candidates and parties, a reduction in support for traditional parties, presidential contests going to a second round, and the fragmentation of most Congresses. These trends are clearly linked to the sense of disappointment that most electorates felt at their governments’ inability to improve living conditions, all of which contributed to a growing frustration with politicians.

This same failure also largely explains the inability of the parties to respond to the realities of most people’s lives. The traditional parties have been losing support steadily over recent years. Their loss of credibility opens the way for ‘independent’ candidates looking to distance themselves from the traditional parties, but who do not necessarily help create enduring political institutions. It is to be seen whether the new parties, while strengthening democracy, are also able to offer any real alternative.


Alcántara, M. Los sistemas políticos de América Latina. Madrid; Tecnos, 1999.

Alcántara, M. and Freidenberg, F. ‘Los Partidos Políticos en América Latina’. Published in: Observatorio Electoral Latinoamericano, Biblioteca 2002.

Burdman, Julio. El giro anti-mercado en América latina. Observatorio Electoral Latinoamericano, 2002

CEPAL, Balance preliminar de las economías de América Latina y el Caribe 2002.

Cerdas, Rodolfo. Una nueva emergencia de movimientos políticos podría conducir a una división del voto. Observatorio Electoral Latinoamericano, 2001

Domínguez, Norma. Elecciones en Brasil 2002. Observatorio Electoral Latinoamericano, 2002,

Falcoff, Mark. Colombia: A Questionable Choice of Objectives. Latin American Outlook, 03/2002.

González, Miguel. La costa atlántica a sus cuartas elecciones: autonomía o neo-integración. In: Confidencial, year 6, No. 274.

Lagos, Marta Latinobarómetro: Informe de Prensa 2002.

Lazarte, Jorge ¿El fin del sistema de partidos? Observatorio Electoral Latinoamericano,

Mayorga, René. Las elecciones generales de 2002 y la metamorfosis del sistema de partidos en Bolivia. Observatorio Electoral Latinoamericano, 2002.

Murillo, Gabriel and Fernández, Andrea. (2003). Elecciones Presidenciales 2002: Un desafío a la seguridad. Mimeo.

Nohlen, Dieter. Percepciones sobre la democracia y el desarrollo político en América Latina. Paper presented at ‘Foro Estado, Sociedad Civil y Democracia en las Américas’, Lima, September 2002.

Pachano, Simón. El próximo Presidente contará con un respaldo muy débil. (Interview). Observatorio Electoral Latinoamericano,

Paramio, Ludolfo. Frustración de los electores y crisis de la democracia. Paper presented at the ‘Seminario Transición y Consolidación Democrática: El Contexto Internacional y la Experiencia Mexicana’. Mexico, February 2003.

________. Perspectivas de la izquierda en América Latina, Real Instituto Elcano, working papers, 2003.

Payne, Zovatto, Carrillo y Allamand . Democracies in Development: Politics and Reform in Latin America, BID, 2002.

Pérez Liñan, Aníbal. Una evaluación institucional del balotaje en América Latina. Mimeo, University of Pittsburgh.

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Sánchez, Fernando. Desalineamiento electoral en Costa Rica. This article is to be published in number 98-2002 (IV) of Revista de Ciencias Sociales de la Universidad de Costa Rica.

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Tuesta Soldevilla, Fernando. Expectativas sobre la regionalización. Entrevista. Observatorio Electoral Latinoamericano 2002,

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[1] The authors would like to thank Silvia Pizarro and Ileana Aguilar for their help in preparing this article. They would also like to express their thanks and recognition to all the academics who contributed to the document in general: Jorge Lazarte and René Mayorga (Bolivia); Bruno Speck (Brazil); Jorge Rovira (Costa Rica); Humberto de la Calle and Gabriel Murillo (Colombia); Rosa Marina Zelaya (Nicaragua); Fernando Tuesta and Rafael Roncaglio (Peru); Isis Duarte (Dominican Republic); Juan Rial, Felix Ulloa, and Oscar Fernández.

[2] Payne, Zovatto, Carrillo and Allemand. Democracies in Development: Politics and Reform in Latin America.

[3] UNDP. Deepening democracy in a Fragmented World. Report on Human Development, 2002

[4] Nohlen, Dieter. Percepciones sobre la democracia y el Desarrollo Político en América Latina

[5] Inter.-American Development Bank, 2002 Annual Report.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] CEPAL, Balance preliminar de las economias de América Latina y el Caribe 2002

[9] Poverty is defined as having a daily income of less than $2, while ‘extreme poverty’ is a daily income of less than $1.

[10] ‘Populism’, a widely used and ill-defined term, is used here to refer to the collection of movements and political trends that reject the neo-liberalist policies adopted by many countries in the region in the 1990s, and doing so through charismatic leaders and demagogy, i.e. nationalist economic policies, or unsustainable distribution of wealth. Chávez in Venezuela is a clear example of this.

[11] Nohlem, op. cit.

[12] Alcántara and Freidenburg. Los Partidos Políticos en América Latina.

[13] Lagos, Marta. Latinobarómetro: Informe de Prensa 2002.

[14] Sánchez, F. Desalineamiento electoral en Costa Rica. This article was published in number 98-2002 (IV) of the Revista de Ciencias Sociales de la Universidad de Costa Rica.

[15] Sánchez (2003) points out that the split vote is indicative of a drop in party royalty, and a third characteristic of the electoral dis-alignment that emerged during the elections.

[16] In May 1998, the government passed Law 7794, which changed the Municipal Code, allowing for the election of mayors on a different date to other polls at a national level. This move was aimed at decentralizing the state.

[17] A study by the University of Costa Rica on extending the electronic voting process showed that 94% of voters were in favor; 84.7% of those who had voted in this way, and 66% of the total electorate said the system was easier to use. At the same time, 66% of voters who used the system said it was simpler. More than 98% were able to vote electronically within the two minutes established by the law, and only 1.2% were unable to meet this time frame.

[18] For more details, see: González, La Costa Atlántica a sus cuartas elecciones: autonomía o neo-integración.

[19] Unidad para la promoción de la Democracía / OEA (2002 a)

[20] Ibid

[21] In its conclusions, the Mission stated, ‘Our presence at the elections held in 2000, 2001, and on March 3, leads the mission to affirm that the Nicaraguan electoral process should, in the short term, be subject to a thorough examination and study by all those involved in the process, so that a consensus can be reached on implementing reforms to solve the current problems facing the electoral process.  (Unidad para la promoción de la Democracia / OEA, 2002 b).

[22] Unidad para la promoción de la Democracia / OEA, op.cit

[23] Although Pastrana’s roots lie in the Conservative Party, the campaign that led him to the presidency was entitled, ‘A Grand Alliance for change.’

[24] Falcoff, Mark. Colombia: A Questionable Choice of Objectives.

[25] Valenzuela, Arturo. La política exterior norteamericana hacía Colombia tras el fracaso del proceso de paz.

[26] Falcoff, op. cit

[27] Murillo and Fernández, Elecciones Presidenciales 2002: Un desafío a la seguridad.

[28] The final poll carried out by the Centro Nacional de Consultoría gave Uribe 48%, and Serpa 32%. Napoleón Franco gave them 49% and 33% respectively.

[29] Murillo, op. cit.

[30] Both sides accused the polling stations of not filling in the necessary paperwork correctly, or of non-tallied counts, or lack of detail regarding the preferential voting system. This situation was largely due to  the complexity of elections with so many candidates.

[31] Manuel Morel Cerda, of the Central Electoral Borrad (JCE), described the success of the system as ‘excepcional’, and highlighted the increased presence of women in the process compared to 1998.

[32] Mayorga, René. Las elecciones generales de 2002 y la metamorfosis del sistema de partidos en Bolivia.

[33] For Mayorga, the data shows that the collapse of the three-way power sharing of the MNR, MIR, and ADN did not bring about the collapse of the respective parties, nor of the political system. And while the three-way arrangement disappeared, the MNR and the MIR still retained their relevancy, so much so that they were the driving force behind the coalition government. The MNR won the elections with 22.4% of the vote, garnering 47 seats, while the MIR was the third force, with 31 seats out of the total of 157.

[34] For an in-depth analysis of the effects of the 2002 elections on the Bolivian party system, see Mayorga (2002) and Lazarte (2002), both of whom draw very different conclusions: the first emphasizing continuity, and the latter, change.

[35] Mayorga. Op. cit

[36] PMDB: Party of the Brazilian Democratic Movement – PFL: Party of the Liberal Front – PT: Workers Party – PSDB: Party of Brazilian Social Democracy – PPB: Brazilian Progressive Party – PC do B: Communist Party – PPS Popular Socialist Party – PRONA: Party of the Reconstruction of the National Order

[37] We are using data from between January and October of the four main Brazilian polling companies: Ibope; Data Folha; Vox Populi, and CNT / Sensus.

[38] See Paramio’s análisis: Perspectivas de la Izquierda en América Latina. Real Instituto Elcano working papers, 2003.

[39] Ibid.

[40] See: Pachano, Simón

[41] In the first round, the elections were postponed in the cantons of Guayas (Naranjito, after urns were Burned, and in Palestina due to a widespread boycott of the election), in the parish of Cojimíes and in the canton of Pedernales, as well as in one polling station in the canton of Tosagua en Manabí (boycott in the first and protests in the second after papers were found that had previously been marked). For more details see: European Union Electoral Misión in Ecuador, 2002.

[42] See: Paramio, L. Frustración de los electores y crisis de la democracía.

[43] See analysis by Lazarte and Mayorga referred to in bibliography

[44] See analysis by Paramio, L. Perspectivas de la izquierda en América Latina. Op. cit.

Jorge Blázquez

Written by Jorge Blázquez

Miguel Sebastián

Written by Miguel Sebastián