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Latin America’s 2023 Presidential Elections Marked by Dominance of Outsider Candidates

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Inflation, poverty, and rising violent crime are ongoing problems in Latin America’s post-COVID economic recovery. These issues have led to the rise of unconventional candidates in presidential elections this year, marking a departure from traditional candidates. In Ecuador, this shift has triggered violent reactions. Despite the new wave of leadership, economic recovery has been slow, and poverty rates are increasing, causing concerns. Existing regimes and political parties have failed to address key issues like job creation and corruption, leading to voter frustration and a willingness to support alternative candidates. Major financial institutions like the IMF have acknowledged the decline in living standards and increased anxiety about the future in Latin America. Factors such as poverty, high inflation, and increasing crime rates have led voters to reject legacy political parties. In Guatemala, for example, a little-known politician named Bernardo Arevalo won the presidential election, shocking his opponent, Sandra Torres, a legacy politician. Guatemala’s wild card presidential pick may face challenges due to accusations of irregularities and the suspension of his political party. Drug-related crime and violence are prevalent in Guatemala, where violence rates have increased, and poverty is widespread. In Ecuador, the country is struggling with drug cartels, violent crime, and poverty, leading to the rise of political outsiders in the presidential race. However, candidates advocating tough-on-crime approaches often face threats, as seen in the assassination of Fernando Villavicencio and the shooting near Daniel Noboa’s public caravan. Mr. Noboa, a 35-year-old politician, has gained popularity through social media campaigns and shares similarities with El Salvador’s president, Nayib Bukele. Argentina has been facing severe economic challenges under the Peronist regime, resulting in rising unemployment, poverty, and inflation. Sergio Massa, the Peronist party candidate, is seen as indistinguishable from the failed policies of the regime. However, Javier Milei, an economist and member of the Chamber of Deputies, has become the front-runner candidate, offering conservative and unconventional solutions to Argentina’s economic problems, such as dollarization. Milei’s approach has both supporters and critics, with some arguing that it resonates with angry and poorly informed individuals. Overall, the rise of unconventional candidates reflects public frustration with the status quo and a desire for change amid ongoing economic challenges.

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