Theme Five

Inequality and Political Power

In many LAC countries, political parties are weak, fragmented, and have shallow roots in society. Even in countries that used to have strong political parties, the electorate is increasingly disenchanted with traditional politicians.

Many countries in the region have experienced a rotation between right and left-wing governments. In line with these unstable political dynamics, governments throughout the region have limited bureaucratic capacity to implement policies and provide high quality public services that could promote equality of opportunities. This issue leaves the bottom- and middle-class vulnerable to economic shocks. In recent years, a wave of political unrest erupted in many LAC countries. While some of the unrest comes from the unmet demands of poorest shares of the population, it is puzzling that most comes from vocal groups in the middle class.

The fifth theme relates to the relationship between inequality and political power, establishing links with the four themes previously described. The network aims to provide an informed discussion of the inequality in political voice across Latin Americans. A second set of issues under this theme concern how the distribution of political power shapes the political economy of decision making.

Key questions:

- What are the origins of Latin America’s economic inequality?

- Why is Latin America so persistently unequal despite political inclusion?

- How weak parties and political inequality may help to explain the persistent inequality in Latin America?

- How does the political economy explain the low redistributive power of net fiscal systems in Latin America?

- What are the consequences of opting out of public services for the social contract?

Panel Members

Julián Messina (300x300)

Julián Messina

Universidad de Alicante

Ana María Ibáñez (300x300)

Ana María Ibáñez

Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and Universidad de los Andes

François Bourguignon (300x300)

François Bourguignon

Paris School of Economics

Marcela Eslava (300x300)

Marcela Eslava

Universidad de Los Andes

Andres_Velasco 400x400

Andrés Velasco

London School of Economics and Political Science

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