A Seat at the Table: Five Steps to Making Latin American Politics More Diverse

by Andrew Downie

Mar 22, 2017

The story of political representation is not unlike many narratives in Latin America. Progress has been made, with some notable success cases, but the region is still home to stark contrasts and there is much work to be done. Drawing on assessments from experts and evidence from leaders who have broken barriers, a new report by Americas Society with the support of the Ford Foundation identifies real strategies for electing and supporting minority lawmakers in Latin American politics.

The report, A Seat at the Table: Five Steps to Making Latin American Politics More Diverse, shows women and indigenous, Afro-descendant, and LGBT people are still too often shut out of decision-making processes on the national, state, and municipal levels, and outlines concrete recommendations to get the region's democracies moving in the right direction. Those recommendations are:

  • Commit to quotas. While every country in Latin America except Chile, Guatemala, and Venezuela has some form of legislated quota system in place to ensure women's representation in politics, the results remain uneven.
  • Enforce quotas. To avoid quota laws being mere window dressing it is necessary to identify and close loopholes.
  • Form diverse alliances. One of the most natural ways for minority groups to win political support is by forming networks—and not always with the most obvious partners.
  • Invest in safety nets. Policies ensuring inclusive economic growth are key to achieving parity in political representation.
  • Foster solidarity once in office. Leaders need to remain aligned with their constituents and be advocates for equal representation at their new positions. 
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