Mac Margolis, who wrote recently about the “selective zeal for democracy” of those who condemned the Honduran coup, wrote another little piece on Latin America for Newsweek this week: “Latin America Rights Itself” (print only). He argues that “the region now looks on the brink of a rightward shift,” pointing to upcoming elections in Chile, Brazil and Uruguay in which the more liberal incumbent party is projected to lose, contrasting that with the great popularity of Colombia’s president Uribe, “who enraged the left by befriending the Bush administration.” Margolis suggests that “pragmatism is trumping charisma” and concludes: “Castigating the gringo devil may still make pulses race, but when it comes to casting ballots, Latin America looks likely to go for the middle ground.”
Ok, except Lula’s approval ratings are neck and neck with Uribe’s, and Bachelet’s have been on the rise and are pretty close–a main reason her party’s candidate is looking weak is because there’s a challenger to his left who’s peeling off a hefty chunk of votes. Lula’s party’s candidate isn’t all that well-known; once he starts campaigning for her (the election isn’t until next year), observers expect her to jump in the polls. And a majority of Uruguayans want Uruguay’s Vazquez to run for president again, even though a second consecutive term is barred by the constitution. All of which makes Margolis’s argument about “pragmatism” (defined here as “shifting right”) and the “middle ground” basically nonsensical.