12 December 2017

2018 Latin American Elections: Who, When, What

The Latin American continent faces a jampacked electoral calendar in 2018, which will undoubtedly mark the roadmap of its political and economic relations with the rest of the world. The kickoff will be by Costa Rica in February, followed by El Salvador in March, Paraguay in April, Colombia in May, Mexico in July, Brazil and Peru in October, and, if nothing gets in its way, Venezuela also in October.

Will the bells ring for López Obrador in Mexico or for the candidate that the PRI has presented, José Antonio Meade, who for the first time in history is not a party litigant? Will they ring  for Lula da Silva in Brazil or will they be silent by court order? Who will make them sound in Colombia: Fajardo, Vargas Lleras, De la Calle, Ordoñez, Duque, Nieto, López or any of the more than 50 candidates that come forward? One thing is for sure: the results are not a particular issue of each country, but affect the entire region. In a globalized and interconnected world economically, politically, and ideologically, what happens in each of these successive elections will have consequences on the geopolitical balance of the region and, subsequently, its relations with the rest of the world.

For centuries, the bells were a means of rapid and effective communication that warned the population of many events of community life. A shared signal, learned by all of the community since childhood, that informed of the time of day, the arrival of a renowned visitor, a fire, a lost child, a storm, a party, a death.

If that language were still used today, it would undoubtedly include the result of the elections among its many messages. There would be different rings and sequences for each party, for an absolute majority, for a presidential runoff, or any other possible event. However, the De campanorum pulsatione, kept in the Archives of the Cathedral of Toledo (manuscript 23-17), which describes how and in what situations to ring the bells, confirms that there is nothing stipulated in the case of elections. Perhaps we have to note that it was written in 1357, a time unaccustomed to these circumstances.

In 2018, more than 420 million people will be called to the polls in Latin America to choose who will determine the destinies of their countries. Costa Rica (February), El Salvador (March), Paraguay (April), Colombia (May), Mexico (July), Peru and Brazil (October) and Venezuela (possibly in October) are the junctures when the future political paths of the region will be chosen.


Continuity or renewal, left or right, new protagonists or known actors, rise of populism or consolidation of the middle class are some of the trending political questions that will be answered as the year progresses and results are known.

Ernest Hemingway opened his novel For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940) with a well-known poem by John Donne on the interdependence of human things:

“No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.”

Let’s pay attention to the news because the bells that toll in 2018 will not just be for a certain region and people, but for us all.


Key questions


1) Why is the confluence of these elections in Latin America relevant during 2018?

It is very unusual that, in Latin America, electoral processes happen to transpire in the region’s most influential countries during the same year.

2) What is at stake?

From a socio-economic point of view, Latin America will determine the future balance of its economic growth and its social impact.

3) Do we have any idea of what the results will be?

We are faced with circumstances that, though in previous elections would have been decidedly “remote”, now are considered perfectly plausible.

4) We are not clear about the results, but at least do we know who is running for the elections?

Unlike previous electoral calls, in which predetermined and consolidated candidates faced their results with more or less defined polls and trends, for the electoral processes of 2018, the uncertainty is total.

In spite of the time pressure, certain countries’ main parties and their traditional “quarry of presidents” continue to try and lock down their candidates and their determination of winning coalitions.


This study counted on the participation of the Public Affairs Area of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Mexico, Colombia, Spain and Panama, and Latam Desk Europe of LLORENTE & CUENCA. 

Alejandro Romero

Partner and CEO for the Americas at LLORENTE & CUENCA

Ever since 1997 Romero has been at the forefront of the company’s expansion processes in Latin America, starting operations in Peru, Argentina, Colombia, Panama, Ecuador, Mexico and recently, Miami. Romero has also recently led the communication processes in three of the ten most important M&A operations in the region: the selling of BellSouth operations to the Telefonica Group; SABMiller’s acquisition of the Corporate Group Bavaria and; the selling of the Financial Group Uno to Citibank. In 20 years, Romero has managed to position LLORENTE & CUENCA as the leading communication network in Latin America

email aromero@llorenteycuenca.com

linkedin Alejandro Romero Paniagua

Twitter_64x64 @aromerollyc

Claudio Vallejo

Senior Director of Latam Desk Europe at LLORENTE & CUENCA Spain

Claudio holds a Degree in Law and a Diploma in Advanced Communication Studies from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, specializing in international relations and international marketing from the University of Kent at Canterbury (United Kingdom). Before joining the firm he worked as Senior Advisor with the multinational strategic communication and public affairs company KREAB. Prior to that, he was the communications director for various companies in leading positions within their sectors, such as CODERE, ENCE and SOLUZIONA. He was also the International Communications Manager for the electricity company UNIÓN FENOSA. Before this experience in the private sector, Claudio was Commercial Attaché at the Commercial Office of the Spanish Embassy in Quito (Ecuador).

email cvallejo@llorenteycuenca.com

linkedin Claudio Vallejo


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