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The Double-Edged Sword in Brazil and Colombia's Presidential Elections

Jan 10, 2018 | 14:44 GMT
Supporters of current senator and former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe attend a rally with presidential candidates from Uribe's coalition in Medellin on Oct. 2, 2017.

Supporters of current senator and former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe attend a rally with presidential candidates from Uribe's coalition in Medellin on Oct. 2, 2017. This year's presidential elections in Brazil and Colombia promise to be like no other in Latin America.

(JOAQUIN SARMIENTO/AFP/Getty Images)

Acute political polarization has been a common characteristic of Latin American politics for decades, with deep economic inequalities often sharpening the ideological divisions among the region's political parties. Whenever a presidential election rolls around, understanding these ideological differences has typically been key to ascertaining the direction of the country going to the polls. This year's presidential elections in Brazil and Colombia, however, promise to be like no other in Latin America. Widespread corruption scandals and economic slowdown have hit both countries' traditional political parties hard. As a result, fragmentation – rather than polarization – will be the watchword of the day as elections in Brazil and Colombia will likely catapult an outsider into power in both countries....

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