La Profesora Abstraída

Weblog of Michelle Dion, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science, at McMaster University. My blog has moved to Visit my other website.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Uruguay's new president has been inaugurated.

Today Dr. Tabaré Vázquez assumed the presidency in Uruguay. He is one of many leftist presidents elected in the last few years in Latin America. The most famous leftist president in the region right now is of course, President Lula da Silva of Brazil. If Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the popular leftist mayor of Mexico City is allowed to run for president in 2006, many think he will win. (The Fox administration has been trying to strip him of his immunity so that he can be prosecuted for allegedly ignoring a court order to stop construction on a road--near my work BTW--on expropriated land. News programs actually had segments showing the deserted road project and interviewed gardeners to determine whether the height of the grass on the cleared area was consistent with an end to construction around the time of the court order. It's enough for its own post.)

In an article in the New York Times (free subscription required), they make much of the recent election of lefties south of the border:

Uruguay's shift consolidates what has become the new leftist consensus in South America. Three-quarters of the region's 355 million people are now governed by left-leaning leaders, all of whom have emerged in the past six years to redefine what the left means today.

They are not so much a red tide as a pink one. Doctrinaire socialism carries the day far less than pragmatism, an important change in tone and policy that makes this political moment decidedly new.

The emphasis on pink is an important one because most of these leaders have been fairly moderate once in office. They may campaign as heavy lefties (and even Lula had to soften his edges this last time he ran), most of the president's mentioned pursue a slightly left of center agenda once in office. They do not expropriate industries, run up huge spending deficits, etc. Instead, they are very sensitive to market pressures and may even move more to the center than their constituents would like, just to make sure investors do not get spooked. In many ways, they have to be more careful than their conservative counterparts because the markets distrust them more.

Oh, BTW, one of the Dr.'s first acts as President was to resume full diplomatic relations with Cuba, which had been restricted three years ago. I guess for some that would be enough to paint the new administration red.

posted by Michelle @ 10:12 PM,


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