Blog

Published: 26/07/2022
Urnas y descontento en América Latina
El pasado 19 de junio casi 20 millones de colombianas y colombianos acudieron a las urnas para votar un cambio. Esto era claro, pues ninguno de los dos candidatos que pasaron a la segunda vuelta pertenecía a los partidos tradicionales del país. Por un lado, Gustavo Petro, de Colombia Humana, es un líder de izquierda que en su juventud militó en la guerrilla M-19; por otro, Rodolfo Hernández, de la Liga Anticorrupción, es un ingeniero civil y empresario sin militancia política. La tradicional centro derecha colombiana quedó relegada, y la ciudadanía eligió por primera vez a un candidato de izquierda como presidente (Petro, con 50.44% de los votos). Este deseo de cambio no debe sorprendernos. Colombia es uno de los países más desiguales de la región, solo detrás de Brasil y Guatemala, con un coeficiente de Gini de 0.523, y una alta tasa de pobreza monetaria (39.3% de la población). Ante este contexto, en 2019 el presidente Iván Duque anunció un paquete económico con reformas laborales y de pensiones, que desencadenó fuertes movilizaciones. Primero encabezadas por sindicatos inconformes, las protestas pronto evolucionaron a un movimiento de insatisfacción profunda con participación de diversos sectores del país. Por si fuera poco, la pandemia de Covid-19 agregó a esto devastadoras consecuencias de salud y socio-económicas. El resultado electoral descrito anteriormente refleja este descontento. Colombia no es la excepción. Entre 2018 y 2022 casi 300 millones de latinoamericanos han acudido a las urnas para elegir un nuevo o nueva presidente[1]. En 2018 se acudió a las urnas en seis países (Brasil, Colombia, Costa Rica, México, Paraguay y Venezuela); en 2019 en seis más (Argentina, Bolivia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Panamá y Uruguay); en 2020 se repitió la elección en Bolivia; en 2021 se votó en cinco naciones Chile, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua y Perú. En 2022 se han celebrado, a la fecha elecciones en Costa Rica y Colombia. En casi todas, la ciudadanía ha buscado un cambio: el 78.94% de las elecciones libres de la región ha traído la derrota del oficialismo (Tabla y mapa a continuación). Tabla 1. América Latina, elecciones presidenciales y cambio de partido en el gobierno, 2018-2022   Mapa 1. América Latina, elecciones presidenciales y cambio de partido en el gobierno, 2018-2022   Esto tampoco debe sorprendernos. América Latina tiene elevados niveles de pobreza. En 2019, el 30,8% de la población se colocaba debajo de la línea de pobreza y 11,5% vivía en pobreza extrema y se mantiene como la región más desigual del mundo. La región es también la más violenta del mundo. El Informe Regional de Desarrollo Humano 2021 del Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo (PNUD) destaca que mientras la región apenas alberga a 9 % de la población mundial, registra el 34% del total de muertes violentas. A esto se suman cientos de escándalos de corrupción como los ‘Cuadernos de Coimas’ en Argentina, el ‘Lava Jato’ en Brasil,  ‘La Línea’ en Guatemala y las Casas ‘Blanca’ y ‘Gris’ en México, entre otros. Ante este panorama, no causa asombro la alta tasa de derrota del oficialismo en el continente. El reto, sin embargo, no sólo consiste en votar alternativas, sino en que estas alternativas cumplan con las expectativas expresadas en las urnas. Estos nuevos gobiernos deben entregar resultados en educación, medio ambiente, seguridad social, empleo, pobreza y seguridad pública -y de preferencia hacerlo rápidamente-. Esto es relevante para Colombia y los nuevos gobiernos en toda la región, pero también para la Constituyente Chilena, donde están puestos los ojos de toda la región. De lo contrario, el descontento se profundizará, pudiendo traer opciones autoritarias que, con diagnósticos y propuestas sencillas, desde el poder desmantelen el edificio democrático. Ejemplos ya existen. La democracia que tanto nos costó lograr está en juego y una forma de salvarla es escuchar y cumplirle al electorado. En Colombia, el presidente electo tiene retos mayúsculos, desde un país dividido, altos índices de violencia, pobreza, desigualdad y las secuelas de la pandemia. Ante esto, Petro tiene clara la necesidad de emprender reformas y sabe que estas le costaron al actual presidente Iván Duque una sublevación social. Sin embargo, esto también parece ser muy claro para Petro: “si yo fallo, vienen las tinieblas que arrasarán con todo; yo no puedo fallar”. Y para estas reformas necesarias, en Colombia y la región, recordemos que la democracia no es un obstáculo, sino nuestra aliada fundamental. [1] Estimación del autor a partir de participación electoral por país. En casos de elecciones con segunda vuelta, se tomó el dato de la ronda con participación más alta.
Published: 20/07/2022
How to Assess Democracy: A Guide to Using the Global State of Democracy Indices
Are you a policymaker, journalist, academic or citizen looking to learn more about the state of democracy globally? By now, you have heard that democracy is in decline, but what does that mean in tangible terms? How do patterns differ from one country or region to the next? The newly updated Global State of Democracy Indices can help you understand what is happening along a broad range of measures—from Clean Elections to Gender Equality. The Basics of the Global State of Democracy Indices International IDEA’s Global State of Democracy Indices (GSoDI) is a dataset that measures 116 individual indicators of 173 countries’ democratic performance.  The GSoDI’s unique framework draws on 12 high-quality sources to produce a rich and methodologically robust dataset. Instead of ranking countries on a unidimensional index, the GSoDI comprises five main attributes—Representative Government, Fundamental Rights, Checks on Government, Impartial Administration and Participatory Engagement—and 16 subattributes, all related to different aspects of democracy. This allows for a nuanced analysis of democratic performance, based on the belief that no single ideal type of democracy exists. The use of multiple datasets also mitigates the risk of bias. The GSoDI was launched in 2017 and is updated annually, with data available from 1975 through 2021. How do I use it? Let’s look at how Zambia, one of the African countries that went to the polls last year, has performed recently compared to the regional and sub-regional average. The 2021 Zambian general elections resulted in a victory for the opposition leader, Hakainde Hichilema and his United Party for National Development, who defeated incumbent Edgar Lungu of the Patriotic Front. While the campaigning leading up to the election was marked by political violence, the election itself was considered “peaceful, transparent and professional” by international observers. This is reflected in the GSoDI by a significant improvement in the subattribute of Clean Elections, a measure of the extent elections are free from irregularities such as biased voter registration and voter intimidation. It currently ranks above the regional and sub-regional average in this measure. This has resulted in Zambia now being classified as a democracy, compared to a hybrid regime last year. Zambia has also seen significant improvements in Freedom of Expression and Access to Justice since 2020 as well as a significant improvement in Media Integrity in the last five years. President Hichilema has vowed to respect the rule of law and free media, but it remains to be seen to what extent Hichilema’s government differs from the authoritarian practices of Lungu. While democracy at large is in decline globally, the GSoDI enable users to identify unique trends. In Sri Lanka, which is in the midst of the worst economic crisis since it gained independence, the GSoDI can help put things in context. It is clear, for instance, that the end of the civil war in 2009 marked the beginning of an upward trend in Fundamental Rights but that the last five years have been marked by worrying dips, mainly in Impartial Administration and Checks on Government. These trends correspond to increasingly centralized executive power and allegations of corruption in some of the highest government offices. Explore the data with interactive tools here: GSoD Indices Download the latest version of the dataset, along with the codebook, methodology and technical procedures guide here: Data Resources.
Democracy Notes
Published: 13/07/2022
Sri Lanka’s President and Prime Minister to Resign Amidst Protests: Democracy in Action and Challenges Ahead 
Hours before his expected resignation, Sri Lankan beleaguered President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country on a military jet on Wednesday,13 July 2022. Protesters marked the moment with jubilation, hopeful that this marks the end of decades of rule by the Rajapaksa family.    The president’s flight comes after months of public protests demanding that the leadership step down for its perceived failure to address the country’s most severe post-independence debt crisis.    The world is witnessing democracy in action. For over 100 days, tens of thousands of Sri Lankans from all walks of life have marched and protested peacefully, expressing genuine dissent while exercising their democratic right to peaceful assembly. In a tipping point over the weekend, protesters stormed President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s residence. Pictures of people lounging in the opulent surroundings went viral, standing in stark contrast to the dire situation outside, where fuel is being rationed and food prices are soaring. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s residence was also set alight, and he has offered to step down.      In a recent development, though, Rajapaksa appointed Wickremesinghe as Acting President and no resignations have occurred. Protests have moved to the Prime Minister’s office. This adds fuel to the impression that Wickremesinghe, a long-time opposition politician and former prime minister, is little more than a “lifeline to the Rajapaksas.”   These leaders’ resignations, if they occur, will be an important milestone in what is Asia’s oldest democracy according to universal suffrage, spearheaded by a massive show of public anger.   What Next?   Regardless of whether these leaders step down, significant challenges lie ahead. The legislature’s lack of confidence in leadership, within both the opposition and ruling parties, remains a key challenge. Even after the President’s removal, many ruling party members tainted with corruption scandals who supported the Rajapaksa family will remain. Protesters are therefore calling for an interim government and constitutional reform, which will be vital to gain confidence in a new  government. An all-party alternative is feared to be a way for the Rajapaksa’s to remain in power behind the scenes.    Ultimately, Sri Lankans wish to see legal and institutional changes, including reforms that restore good governance and end impunity for high-level corruption linked to the crisis. Addressing the underlying issues—such as the strengthening of structural checks and balances—will not only address the country’s economic woes but also provide an opportunity to achieve real democratic legitimacy.   Indeed, fundamental reforms and transparency throughout the process will be required, not just by the public, but by the International Monetary Fund and international creditors. Among the priorities upon forming a stable government will be to strengthen Sri Lanka’s judiciary (in tackling corruption) to make it impartial to political interference. As noted by Chalana Perera, a Sri Lankan advisor to tourism businesses, “This is where Sri Lanka has yet to prove that we are geared for recovery—our laws must be upheld to hold those responsible for the crisis accountable, otherwise we risk a repeat of gross negligence in the future.” It could also be a chance for Sri Lanka to reckon with its past and to build a new and more inclusive national identity; the much-touted unity that has marked the protests could ring hollow without a sincere reflection of what it means to be Sri Lankan. There is, however, room to be “cautiously optimistic,” as Chalana suggests that “the peoples’ uprising and its strength across social strata, has cautioned those who come into power next. Sri Lankans expect competent and selfless leaders to navigate the island out of troubled waters with integrity and accountability. We need sustainable, long-term solutions to propel Sri Lanka forward.”