Latin America Political Landscape Changes in 2023 & 2024 Elections
by Brett Bayduss, on Jan 4, 2024 8:00:00 AM
Latin America continues to be one of the most popular destinations for companies to set up call center operations due to its accessibility, bilingual skills, low wages and cultural affinity to the U.S. However, political stability can often be very volatile in the region and is an important consideration for any call center site selection decision. Not all elections will create turmoil or uncertainty, but a change in leadership has the potential to alter the business climate as well as create social unrest if it’s a contentious race. Therefore, it is important to understand which nearshore countries had recent elections in 2023 as well as those countries with planned 2024 general elections that may impact the current political landscape. To help you assess the risks, Site Selection Group has provided a summary of recent and upcoming elections across the region.
2023 Presidential Election Results
The presidential election took place in November 2023. Argentina elected right-wing libertarian Javier Milei. Milei will serve a four-year term that began with his inauguration on December 10, 2023. Milei has been tasked with fixing an economy hindered by triple-digit inflation, a looming recession and rising poverty. With only two years of political experience, Milei won the runoff with 56% of the vote versus 44% by seasoned politician Sergio Massa, who conceded the election. A primary agenda of Milei’s is to reduce the role of the state and to privatize the country’s state-owned media outlets as well as other public companies. In his campaign, he pledged to dollarize the economy, abolish the country’s central bank and privatize the pension system. Milei has already backtracked some of his extreme ideas.
Business heir Daniel Noboa won Ecuador’s presidential election in October 2023. At 35 years old, he is the youngest-ever president. Noboa has pledged to improve the economy and create jobs for young people, as well as to improve safety and crime by reducing gang activity and drug smuggling. He will be serving a truncated term from December 2023 until May 2025 – the remaining term of former President Guillermo Lasso. Lasso cut his term short when he dissolved the National Assembly in May 2023 as lawmakers pursued impeachment proceedings against him. Noboa will be eligible to run again in the regularly scheduled election in 2025.
Bernardo Arevalo based his election platform on anti-corruption. Arevalo won in a surprising landslide runoff election in August 2023 with 58% of the vote. The president-elect is scheduled to take office on January 14, 2024, although there have been legal efforts from his adversaries to overturn the election results and keep him out of office.
Santiago Peña, of the long-governing Colorado Party, won the country's presidential election in April and took office on August 15, 2023. Peña, the former International Monetary Fund (IMF) economist, has an ambitious economic agenda and has pledged business-friendly policies that focus on job creation, keeping taxes low and attracting foreign investment. Additionally, Peña will preserve diplomatic relations with Taiwan although there is pressure and protests from farmers to cut those ties.
2024 Planned Presidential Elections
The presidential election will take place in May 2024. The three candidates are President Luis Abinader (running for his second term), Leonel Fernández of the People’s Force(FP), who was president of the Republic three times; and mayor of the province of Santiago de los Caballeros, Abel Martínez, of the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD). The latter governed for 16 consecutive years, between 2004 and 2020. Current polls indicate President Abinader is leading, followed by former President Fernandez in second place, and Martinez in third place.
El Salvador’s first-round ballot is scheduled for February 2024, with inauguration in June 2024. The Constitution bars presidents from serving a second consecutive term. However, El Salvador's Congress permitted President Nayib Bukele to leave his post so that he can campaign ahead of the country’s presidential election next year. He is the first person to run for re-election since Maximiliano Hernández Martínez, a military dictator, did in 1939. Early polls indicate a strong lead for Bukele, with a 90-percentage point advantage over the second-place candidate.
Mexico will see a historical presidential election in June 2024 when two women will vie for the presidency. Mexico’s current leader, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, is constitutionally barred from running for reelection. Currently, Claudia Sheinbaum, of the leftist National Regeneration Movement (MORENA), has a large lead over Xochitl Galvez, candidate of a right-left alliance of three parties. The stage is set for Mexico to be run by a woman starting in December 2024.
Due to constitutional term limits, incumbent president Laurentino Cortizo is ineligible for a second consecutive term. Early polling indicates former president, Ricardo Martinelli, is the preliminary leader of the Panama presidential election. He has a considerable advantage over the current second-place candidate, Rómulo Roux. The first round will be held on May 5, 2024. Martinelli governed from 2009 to 2014. However, his fate is unclear due to a potential 128-month prison sentence for money laundering. A Panama court upheld the prison sentence in October.
General elections will be held on October 27, 2024. If none of the presidential candidates receives a majority in the first round of voting, a runoff will take place on November 24, 2024. Uruguay’s Presidential Secretary Alvaro Delgado of the ruling Multicolor coalition, and specifically from within the Aire Fresco movement of the Nationalist Party, has announced his bid for the presidency. Montevideo Mayor Carolina Cosse of the opposition Frente Amplio has also announced her run for office.