This edited volume was written after the ouster of reformist, neodevelopmentalist governments in Brazil and Argentina and the reestablishment of conservative neoliberal regimes. By means of extensive in-depth interviews with a variety of sources, the authors examine the strengths and weaknesses of the social mobilization policies of Workers' Party (PT) presidents Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff in Brazil and Peronista presidents Nestor Kirchner and Cristina Kirchner in Argentina. After coming to power in 2003, the initial dynamism of these governments waned as they lost their innovation in countering mounting economic problems and charges of corruption, which eventually led to growing opposition and their respective downfalls more than a decade later. Initially, Lula’s policies significantly reduced Brazil’s poverty rate and income inequality, while the Kirchners reversed some of the privatization of state enterprises under the previous neoliberal government and reempowered organized labor. Partly mobilized by social media, however, a wave of anti-government sentiment later rose in response to the deterioration of living conditions during the international financial crisis and charges of corruption, weakening support for both governments and contributing to the impeachment of Rousseff in 2016 and the electoral defeat of Cristina Kirchner in 2015.
Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students and faculty.
— Choice Reviews
Combining an innovative theoretical approach and an impressive collection of empirical data from Brazil and Argentina, this book brings new light on the role of social mobilization during the left governments and in their fall. The crisis of the left struck hard on Latin America, but it has been a global tendency. Its understanding should concern everybody fearing the decline of democratic rule.
— Evelina Dagnino, Full Professor of Political Science, University of Campinas, Brazil
What accounts for the apparently puzzling political U-turn in Latin America? It was not so long ago that analysts spoke of a hegemonic left and left-of-center project in the region, an alliance of government, allied social movements, and large numbers of beneficiaries of socially-inclusive policies, that seemed in many countries both successful and durable. Now, as the region seems to turn, country by country, towards conservative and revanchist politics, the analyses in this valuable book seem vital. Based on the two largest countries in Latin America, the book avoids easy answers or reliance on stylized categories. Rather, it wisely seeks answers to socio-political dynamics in the previous period, ones that developed and intensified over the course of the left turn. Drawing on careful research and sophisticated theoretical tools, this book is timely, incisive, and sobering. It is necessary reading for anyone interested in the region or on the possibilities of institutional left politics more broadly.
— Gianpaolo Baiocchi, Professor of Individualized Studies and Sociology, New York University
This fascinating volume illuminates the “missing link” in the studies on the recent left turn in Latin America. Though the literature is abundant on state-centered perspectives on public policies, party systems and welfare expansion, the patterns of popular mobilization have been scarcely studied. This book is something we have long been waiting for: a rigorous and socially-grounded analysis of popular politics in two major countries of the region.
— Sebastián Etchemendy, Associate Research Professor, Universidad Torcuato Di Tella