- Press Release Distribution

Theories that explain the crisis in democracy are inadequate for Latin America, experts say

Countries in the region are experiencing a different phenomenon from that observed in the United States and Europe, where increased social inequality may have been the cause of the advance of political polarization.

Theories that explain the crisis in democracy are inadequate for Latin America, experts say
( The theories offered by the dominant literature in political science today to try to explain the sources of the political polarization that has endangered democracy around the world are adequate for the United States and Europe, but do not make sense for the countries of Latin America. For this reason, greater collaboration among political scientists is needed to identify other, more plausible hypotheses for the phenomenon that the region is also experiencing.

The assessment was made by researchers participating in a panel discussion on democracy and social inclusion held on April 9 in Chicago (United States) during FAPESP Week Illinois

“There’s an avenue for possible research collaboration between Latin American and North American political scientists, for example, to advance in identifying the sources of political polarization in the two regions and to overcome this challenge in the literature. We have a lot of data and interest in working together to better understand this phenomenon,” said Marta Arretche, professor at the University of São Paulo (USP) in Brazil and researcher at the Center for Metropolitan Studies (CEM) – a FAPESP Research, Innovation and Dissemination Center (RIDC).

According to the researcher, the most influential literature in the social sciences today, mainly in the United States and Europe, establishes a positive link between social inequality and political polarization to explain the rise in electoral strength of extreme right-wing parties and the threats to democratic institutions.

According to this theory, wealthier democracies have experienced an increase in social inequality, which would be the cause of voter support for the proposals of far-right parties.

“According to this theory, the left-wing parties have somehow abandoned their traditional electorate and implemented pro-rich policies, and so the right-wing parties have exploited the discontent of the poorest, who have lost out in the current democratic regimes. But recent research in Latin America, and Brazil in particular, provides good evidence that this may not be true for countries in the region,” Arretche said.

Ongoing postdoctoral research at the CEM on the determinants of political polarization in Latin America shows that although the Gini index (a measure of social inequality) has decreased since the early 2000s, political polarization in Latin American countries has increased over the same period.

“There’s evidence for Latin America that doesn’t confirm the positive association between increases in inequality and increases in polarization. On the contrary, it shows a negative association,” Arretche said.

Another study, also conducted by Brazilian political scientists, on how the perception of gaining or losing social status influences the political positions of the Brazilian electorate, showed that those who vote for left-wing parties in the country are those who believe they have gained centrality in the political arena in the last 20 years. On the other hand, those who voted for right-wing parties perceive themselves as having lost centrality in recent years.

“The conclusion of the authors of this study also goes in the opposite direction of the dominant literature on the United States and Europe. They conclude that the progressive policies implemented by left-wing parties in Brazil since the early 2000s have shaped the political divide that exists today,” Arretche explains.

On the other hand, another ongoing study conducted by the researcher and her collaborators also provides some evidence of disenchantment among Workers’ Party (PT) voters in recent years.

“The party has lost support among its own voters during the crises that Brazil has gone through in the last five years,” Arretche said.

Political crisis

The changes that have taken place in Brazil since 2013, marked by a very intense political crisis, have changed the behavior of actors and generated instability in the pillars of coalition presidentialism in the country, pointed out Andrea Freitas, coordinator of the Center for Public Opinion Studies at the State University of Campinas (CESOP-UNICAMP).

This parliamentary regime that exists in Brazil and other countries, in which the president tries to form coalitions because he doesn’t have a majority in the legislature, could change its configuration in the country, the researcher said.

“My hypothesis is that given the long period of political crisis that Brazil has gone through in the last ten years, there’s been a real change in the behavior of political actors in the country, and we’re no longer going back to the same institutional bases of coalition presidentialism. We’re going to have to build a different relationship,” Freitas said.

Health inequalities

Brazil and other countries have also undergone transformations in other areas, such as health, that may contribute to increasing levels of inequality in the country, explained Rudi Rocha, a professor at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation (FGV) in São Paulo.

One of these changes is the aging of the population, which means that health systems not only in Brazil but in many other countries will have to deal with an increasing number of chronic diseases and other conditions that are more expensive to treat, Rocha noted.

“In the past, health systems in countries like Brazil only had to deal with childhood infectious diseases, which are cheap to treat through vaccination, for example. Now, in low- and middle-income countries, inequalities will eventually increase if they don’t have the capacity to meet the challenges of an aging population,” he said.

The public sector’s difficulty in raising sufficient funds to meet healthcare needs opens up opportunities for the private sector to enter and expand its presence, the researcher pointed out.

“This is already happening in many places around the world, and it could also be a vector of inequality. Ultimately, only those who can afford it will have access to private health care,” Rocha said.

Another vector of social inequality in the country is climate change, which has a more direct impact on poor people, who don’t have access to health care, the researcher stressed.

For more information about FAPESP Week Illinois, visit:


[Attachments] See images for this press release:
Theories that explain the crisis in democracy are inadequate for Latin America, experts say Theories that explain the crisis in democracy are inadequate for Latin America, experts say 2 Theories that explain the crisis in democracy are inadequate for Latin America, experts say 3


Starving cells hijack protein transport stations

Starving cells hijack protein transport stations
A new study details how nutrient-starved cells divert protein transport stations to cellular recycling centers to be broken down, highlighting a novel approach cells use to deal with stressful conditions. New proteins bound for outside the cell are manufactured on the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) – a snaking membrane inside the cell. Grape-like tubular outgrowths on the ER called ER exit sites serve as transport stations, collecting these newly synthesized proteins and delivering them to the next step in their journey. In recent ...

Where have all the right whales gone?

Where have all the right whales gone?
DURHAM, N.C. – Marine researchers have mapped the density of one of the most endangered large whale species worldwide, the North Atlantic right whale, using newly analyzed data to predict and help avoid whales’ harmful, even fatal, exposure to commercial fishing and vessel strikes. Duke University’s Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab led a collaboration of 11 institutions in the United States that pooled 17 years of available visual survey data covering 9.7 million square kilometers of the U.S. ...

Researchers find no link between COVID-19 virus and development of asthma in children

Philadelphia, April 12, 2024 – In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many families worried about the long-term effects posed by the SARS-COV-2 virus. Now, researchers from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) found that a SARS-COV-2 infection likely does not increase the risk of asthma development in pediatric patients. The findings were published today in the journal Pediatrics. Respiratory viral infections early in life are risk factors for asthma. Since the SARS-COV-2 virus can cause severe lung inflammation and prolonged respiratory symptoms in certain patients, many families were concerned whether COVID-19 might trigger an asthma diagnosis in their children. CHOP ...

Cell’s ‘garbage disposal’ may have another role: helping neurons near skin sense the environment

Cell’s ‘garbage disposal’ may have another role: helping neurons near skin sense the environment
The typical job of the proteasome, the garbage disposal of the cell, is to grind down proteins into smaller bits and recycle some of those bits and parts. That’s still the case, for the most part, but, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers, studying nerve cells grown in the lab and mice, say that the proteasome’s role may go well beyond that. Its additional role, say the researchers, may shift from trash sorter to signal messenger in dorsal root ganglion neurons — cells that convey sensory signals from nerve cells close to the skin to the central nervous system. Results of their experiments, published April 12 in Cell Reports, show that proteasomes may help those specialized ...

Study reveals potential to reverse lung fibrosis using the body’s own healing technique

he most common type of lung fibrosis — scarring of the lungs -- is idiopathic, meaning of unknown cause.  Researchers are urgently trying to find ways to prevent or slow idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and related lung conditions, which can cause worsening shortness of breath, dry cough, and extreme fatigue. Average survival following diagnosis of IPF is just three to five years, and the disease has no cure. A recent U-M study from a team led by Sean Fortier, M.D. and Marc Peters-Golden, M.D. of the Division ...

International team co-led by a BSC researcher discovers more than 50 new deep-sea species in one of the most unexplored areas of the planet

International team co-led by a BSC researcher discovers more than 50 new deep-sea species in one of the most unexplored areas of the planet
An international group of scientists, co-led by researcher Ariadna Mechó of the Barcelona Supercomputing Center - Centro Nacional de Supercomputación (BSC-CNS), observed 160 species on seamounts off the coast of Chile that had not yet been known to live in the region and suspect that at least 50 of these species are new to science. The recent Schmidt Ocean Institute expedition to the underwater mountains of the Salas y Gómez Ridge, a remote and underexplored area that stretches from ...

Cleveland Innovation District partners exceeding many targets set by state and JobsOhio

Cleveland Innovation District partners exceeding many targets set by state and JobsOhio
CLEVELAND – Since the Cleveland Innovation District launched in 2021, the founding institutions have made significant progress, including exceeding many of the targets set by the Ohio Department of Development and JobsOhio. Collectively, the institutions participating in this $500 million public-private initiative have created more than 2,600 jobs, spent nearly  $1.2 billion on research and innovation, commenced construction of two new research facilities, created dedicated research space comprising more than 550,000 square feet, and awarded more than 7,300 degrees and certificates to support workforce development. “The Cleveland Innovation District’s progress ...

A third of women experience migraines associated with menstruation, most commonly when premenopausal

WASHINGTON (April 12, 2024) – A third of the nearly 20 million women who participated in a national health survey report migraines during menstruation, and of them, 11.8 million, or 52.5%, were premenopausal. The analysis was conducted by researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center and Pfizer, Inc., which makes a migraine medication.  Because of  the underuse of medications to help treat or prevent menstrual migraines, investigators wanted to understand how common menstrual migraines were and which groups of women could most benefit from potential therapies. The study will be presented April 16, at the American Academy of Neurology ...

MD Anderson Research Highlights for April 12, 2024

HOUSTON ― The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Research Highlights showcases the latest breakthroughs in cancer care, research and prevention. These advances are made possible through seamless collaboration between MD Anderson’s world-leading clinicians and scientists, bringing discoveries from the lab to the clinic and back. Recent developments at MD Anderson offer insights into a combination strategy to improve immunotherapy responses, promising trial results for patients with tumors harboring BRAF mutations, a maintenance strategy for patients with acute myeloid leukemia following chemotherapy, a strategy ...

Soft Robotics appoints new Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Barbara Mazzolai, PhD

Soft Robotics appoints new Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Barbara Mazzolai, PhD
Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., is pleased that Barbara Mazzolai, PhD, has been appointed the new Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the bimonthly journal Soft Robotics. Dr. Mazzolai joins Barry Trimmer, PhD, as part of the executive editorial team for the journal. Soft Robotics is the leading robotics journal devoted to the emerging technologies and developments of soft and deformable robots.  The journal’s coverage includes flexible electronics, materials science, computer science, and biomechanics. The journal breaks new ground as the first to answer the urgent need for research on robotic technology that can safely ...


Statins associated with decreased risk for CVD and death, even in very old adults

Climate change is moving tree populations away from the soil fungi that sustain them

Secrets of sargassum: Scientists advance knowledge of seaweed causing chaos in the Caribbean and West Africa

Bioinformatics approach could help optimize soldiers’ training for improved readiness and recovery

Earth scientists describe a new kind of volcanic eruption

Warmer wetter climate predicted to bring societal and ecological impact to the Tibetan Plateau

Feeding infants peanut products protects against allergy into adolescence

Who will like beetle skewers? What Europeans think about alternative protein food

ETRI wins ‘iF Design Award’ for mobile collaborative robot

Combating carbon footprint: novel reactor system converts carbon dioxide into usable fuel

Investigating the origin of circatidal rhythms in freshwater snails

Altering cellular interactions around amyloid plaques may offer novel Alzheimer’s treatment strategies

Brain damage reveals part of the brain necessary for helping others

Surprising properties of elastic turbulence discovered

Study assesses cancer-related care at US hospitals predominantly serving minority populations compared with non-minority serving hospitals

First in-human investigator-initiated clinical trial to launch for refractory prostate cancer patients: Novel alpha therapy targets prostate-specific membrane antigen

Will generative AI change the way universities communicate?

Artificial Intelligence could help cure loneliness, says expert

Echidnapus identified from an ‘Age of Monotremes’

Semaglutide may protect kidney function in individuals with overweight or obesity and cardiovascular disease

New technique detects novel biomarkers for kidney diseases with nephrotic syndrome

Political elites take advantage of anti-partisan protests to disrupt politics

Tiny target discovered on RNA to short-circuit inflammation, UC Santa Cruz researchers find

Charge your laptop in a minute? Supercapacitors can help; new research offers clues

Scientists discover CO2 and CO ices in outskirts of solar system

Theory and experiment combine to shine a new light on proton spin

PKMYT1, a potential ‘Achilles heel’ of treatment resistant ER+ breast cancers with the poorest prognosis

PH-binding motifs as a platform for drug design: Lessons from protease-activated receptors (PARs)

Virginia Tech researcher creates new tool to move tiny bioparticles

On repeat: Biologists observe recurring evolutionary changes, over time, in stick insects

[] Theories that explain the crisis in democracy are inadequate for Latin America, experts say
Countries in the region are experiencing a different phenomenon from that observed in the United States and Europe, where increased social inequality may have been the cause of the advance of political polarization.