Foreign Policy Blogs

The Collective Loss to United Extremism

The Collective Loss to United Extremism

There have been some welcomed comparisons published over the last few weeks focusing on elections and the possible political future of countries and regions as a whole. While some regions can be considered too diverse to compare properly to each other, Europe and Latin America share some political, cultural and structural similarities, albeit applied in very different ways over time. Despite this, various countries and their citizens make political calculations based on their own experiences, ones that differ greatly between regions and countries in those blocs.

It is difficult to compare different Latin American countries on why they vote for a left/right President, as it is to compare Europe to all of Latin America. While many of the political campaigns in Europe focus on their refugee policies, there is a notable refugee crisis in Latin America. Millions of Venezuelans escaping left wing Chavista policies have been accepted into other countries in the region and the United States. It is very apparent in the region, and blunts a lot of support for the more extreme policies of the left.

In Mexico this is apparent, as while they have a left wing President, he still works to support economic measures for his nation for the benefit of all of Mexico’s industrial sectors. Policy conflicts with the new USMCA agreement shows that Mexico has been more assertive than Canada in defending their national interests, and was pragmatic in getting a trade deal even though Canada wanted them to gamble some economic sectors to demonstrate a united front against the US. While Mexico has been assertive in defending their rights under the USMCA, Canada who is now getting locked out of many traditional economic areas that were sacrosanct since the 1960s era Auto Pact. In many cases, Canada often enters the disputes after Mexico commits to a strong response. Coming from the nation that on occasion still prides itself on the policies of Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, Mexico is rightly focused on helping diverse sectors of its economy.

As France goes, so does much of Europe. With elections coming soon for French voters, the world is certainly watching. Polling is currently showing France giving a lot of support to the right of Macron, but as in the last election this likely will not give Macron a loss unless he agitates his citizens and destroys his centrist position. Centrists must not give way to more extreme policies from either wing of the electorate, the ending result is that citizens will vote for perceived stability, as occurred in Brazil.

Also approaching an election, Brazil’s electorate may not have forgotten the corruption that personally affected most citizens surrounding international sporting events before the last election. With the current inflationary pressures and an electoral response to past political corruption against all establishment parties, the result will be of great interest. Noting that traditional parties seem to only have ex-President Lula da Silva of the early 2000s era as an option, recent memories of corruption may unbalance the view of Lula’s Presidency from the earlier era. While his past stance of campaigning from the left and governing from the centre may help, it might backfire unless he can be seen as repairing the complex problems that came from the pre-Car Wash Scandal era.

The reality is that stability eventually becomes the issue of the day, and citizens often pull away from establishment candidates by electing other establishment politicians that will likely get counterbalanced by interests in their countries. Separate from corruption and economic tragedies, most functional systems are naturally pushed to the policy centre by the electorate. For the most part this has been the case in Mexico. The healthier alternative is often to run a country from the centre left or centre right with some varied policies to ensure resulting stability. Corruption and economic collapse in Latin America may have the army try and act as a power broker, or in the case of Europe, have the Russian Army perform a similar task. Corrupt governments end up in a spiral of loss and chaos as they switch between corruption of the left, then corruption of the right, then back again, never truly addressing poverty or injustice.

What can be certain is that no one will benefit from extreme policies by any Government. The reality is that extremists feed off each other to the detriment of noble citizens. In Latin America, no one wants a left wing Venezuela situation as now everyone has neighbours telling them in person what they experienced in one of the most naturally wealthy countries in the world. Extreme type policies in Europe would ensure a far right/left victory. Extremist policies always illicit a reaction and produces totalitarianism. An “other” is always needed, is intentional and is the method of governing by selective oppression. Extremists feed off each other, and it is not unique to Europe, Latin America or any other nation.




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