ABSTRACT

Latin America is still only a decade into the new century. As was true in analogous situations in 1880, 1910, 1940, 1965, and 1990, important, perhaps eventually defining, trends are in midstream. Decisions will soon be made that may go a long way toward deciding the course and outcome of the rest of this exciting and potentially momentous period. (It may turn out with hindsight that recent years have been essentially an extension of the 1980–1999 period, with a new one still to take shape in the near future.) From a political development perspective, it is clear that Brazil is a consolidated, increasingly institutionalized mass-participation democracy, at least in the electoral arena. Argentina has recovered the substantial ground lost between 1930 and 1983, and its democracy now functions on a much larger scale than when 839,000 votes were enough to return Yrigoyen to office in 1928. Whatever lies ahead for Mexico, its democratic transition launched in 2000 with the opposition victory in the presidential election appears to be complete, with final consolidation awaiting beyond the 2012 test at the ballot box.