Pragmatism gains over ideology, but some freedoms wane, new reports indicate.
The leftward tilt of Latin America has dominated headlines over the past five years, but during the same time, more of the region has moved toward the political center.
The number of Latin Americans identifying themselves as moderates grew from 29 percent in 2003 to 42 percent this year, according to the annual survey by Latinobarometro, a Chile-based polling group.
That is despite the continued dominance of Venezuela's leftist president Hugo Chávez and the election of his allies, including Rafael Correa in Ecuador, Evo Morales in Bolivia, and Sandinista Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua.
But instead of signaling dissatisfaction with leftism, a burgeoning center indicates more newcomers are joining the political fold seeking pragmatic solutions from leaders, no matter their ideological tendency, says the executive director of Latinobarometro, Marta Lagos.
The ascendancy of a political center doesn't necessarily indicate healthier democracies, however. According to a report released this week by Freedom House, 10 countries in Latin America showed declines in freedom of association from 2004 to 2007, while six showed gains. In some countries, including Nicaragua, voters are highly frustrated with the way the political system is working.