Foreign Policy Blogs

Voting Against the Law of Corruption

A woman is seen near posters placed at a bus stop in support of Brazilian former President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva, in Brasilia, Brazil, January 22, 2018. A sign reads: “Lula innocent, Lula indecent”.REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

While difficult to measure a few months before elections are to take place, major national and regional changes are coming to the Americas, with votes likely determining the future economic and security focus of the region.

When considering NAFTA, it could be that the waves created by Trumps bargaining approach may be less of a challenge than electoral change on the US border. With Mexico having a Presidential election this year, and the next President of Mexico having one term of six years to focus on their policy file, any agreements between NAFTA partners may be re-set depending on who wins the Mexican election. It is really difficult to determine who will win in Mexico, as the current establishment party of the PRI runs a young challenger while dealing with a strong push against corruption and security in Mexico. With the PRI being seen by many as skilled practitioners of corruption historically as well as during their last mandate, the field is open for the combined PAN and PRD candidate as well as Lopez Obrador, former left leaning mayor of Mexico City. Obrador may be an interesting choice as a left leaning popular elected official to determine the future of NAFTA negotiations, but will also likely create more uncertainty where popularly elected politicians have already created mixed reactions to NAFTA talks. The PAN and PRD joint party would be an interesting outcome, as a more regional conservative party linked with a social democratic party would make for some negotiated balance in policy, perhaps acting as a bulkhead against old style PRI institutional politics as well as the election of yet another populist leader. It will be a difficult choice with no stark contenders in this year’s Mexican election.

Brazil looks to be choosing Lula in their election this year, if he does not get banned or put in jail for past accusations of corruption. With the judiciary taking to task the entire elite structure in Brazil, it seems as if everyone has been touched by corruption, and the choice between one candidate and another is like choosing between an apple with worms or an orange with mold. Openly knowing about corrupt practices of a candidate and still being elected has occurred before in the Americas, but it is not a choice a voter would like to have as it is confirming a sense of hopelessness. The law of corruption if it was to be seen as a law of physics is that once it takes hold, it is nearly impossible to remove without an excessive response. With Brazil’s judiciary going above and beyond their role as a separate branch of government, their cleaning out of their elite and institutionalized corruption has also created a political ripple effect where interested parties and have and have-nots have taken to politicize the great purge of the elite. With all of the chaos and uncertainty, it could be that the comfort and stability during Lula’s past terms in office might propel him back into office, even if he was shown to be one of the corrupt elite himself. It seems as if the law of corruption might yet again be proven.

An election in one of the largest and the most indebted region in North America, if not the world, is taking place in Canada’s own Ontario. After 15 years of the same government and massive eye watering debt and a legal sentencing coming for a former Chief of Staff coming this month, the seat of the most skilled practitioners of corruption may have a challenger. With the Premier’s approval rating narrowing towards the single digits, the Liberal Party of Ontario’s leader decided to pile on the debt by promising everything to everyone, costing inexplicable amounts more to which the Auditor General of Ontario took to challenging, along with credit rating agencies as well as citizens in Ontario from Small Business owners to Doctors to those who were recently unable to fund heating their homes a few winters ago. The effect of taking half of Canada’s economy and piling on taxes, debt and accusations against anyone who disagrees with these absurd debt laden promises will have a questionable effect on NAFTA. Raising taxes when you have record debt to preserve the political careers of a handful of failed politicians unmeasured against a US economy with low business taxes is tantamount to ignoring the laws of economic theory when you are applying the laws of corruption. With Ontario also being the economic glue that holds divisive regions together in Canada, targeting the energy industry in Alberta and asking an economically growing Quebec to pay into Ontario’s debt will create fractures in the Canadian Federation mirroring the current state of affairs in Catalonia. Accusing others of taking personal actions to cover bad decisions as well in Ottawa also will not help reduce any of these problems.

With the election of the new President in Venezuela being wholly determined by the current President of Venezuela, corruption clearly demonstrates its path to one party state rule. It is clear where corrupt practices have lead, but to move on from them may prove to be more difficult than just promising everything, looking to the past or just being a bit less corrupt than the next person running for office. As it seems, the laws of corruption tend to stand firmly in place.




 

Author

Richard Basas
Richard Basas

Richard Basas, a Canadian Masters Level Law student educated in Spain, England, and Canada (U of London MA 2003 LL.M., 2007), has worked researching for CSIS and as a Reporter for the Latin America Advisor. He went on to study his MA in Latin American Political Economy in London with the University of London and LSE. Subsequently, Rich followed his career into Law focusing mostly on International Commerce and EU-Americas issues. He has worked for many commercial and legal organisations as well as within the Refugee Protection Community in Toronto, Canada, representing detained non-status indivduals residing in Canada. Rich will go on to study his PhD in International Law.

Areas of Focus:
Law; Economics and Commerce; Americas; Europe; Refugees; Immigration

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