The world is immersed in the deepest, most global and longest crisis in decades. Everywhere, how to rebuild and reinvent ourselves, and above all, how to take advantage of the pandemic as a breakthrough a new normal, is under debate. A new normal that recognizes the important role of the State in situations such as the current one, that acknowledges the need for universal social protection and above all, that incorporates the environmental dimension as an essential part of growth and development.
Building a new normal in line with the citizens’ expectations that have been demanded in Latin America since before the emergence of the pandemic and during it, is a pending task. Public demonstrations, civil disobedience, marches and strikes have been the trend in many countries of the region as an expression of a political and governance system that is unable to provide effective responses. According to Latinobarómetro, satisfaction with the functioning of the political system in Latin America reached a historical minimum in 2018. This has started to affect support for democracy in the countries of the region.
The ground on which the region received the pandemic has led to the Covid-19 crisis in Latin America to be also a governance crisis, aside from a health and socioeconomic one, as was recently stated in El País.
Latin America needs to address the way out to this situation by rethinking the political system that supports us, the agreements that far from inclusive, have resulted from corporate pressures, agreements that exclude the large share of the population that is not represented by the afore mentioned corporate sector . The commitment of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), that launched a broad consultation in recent days, aimed at rethinking its governance program, brings hope in the face of the current situation.
A virtual session on September 2 in which I had the opportunity to participate, gathered leaders from the region. During the meeting, the crisis faced by the region and the vision shared with UNDP, that we need to address it as a governance crisis as well and that from there, we need to consider the necessary reforms to address it, was discussed.
If we recognize Covid-19 as the governance crisis that it is, and we acknowledge the need for a new social pact that allows the region to implement the pending reforms, we will be on time to change course and move towards achieving the 2030 Agenda. This is a path that generates the public services that our citizens demand and deserve, the robust institutions we lack, the citizen participation without which it is not possible to govern any longer.
The idea is to strengthen an agenda that makes it easier for the organization to continue collaborating in promoting reforms that address the high levels of inequality that keep broad sectors of the population excluded from opportunities; in order to move from being middle-income countries, to middle-class countries. Reforms that generate the inclusion of vulnerable and excluded groups. The deep economic and social crisis generated by covid-19, put the advances on these matters of the last decades, at risk.
The celebration of Democracy Day, this Tuesday, is conducive to reflecting on the importance of taking caring for it. This requires for the system to respond to expectations. Beyond electoral democracy, already installed in part of Latin American countries, we need for the system to allow and facilitate the construction of more just and balanced societies. This is only possible with the participation of all sectors and the understanding that the very survival of the democratic system is at stake.
* This blog was originally published on El País website.