The ‘pink tide’ refers to the group of progressive governments elected in Latin America in the first decade of the 21st century. But it is an odd metaphor to use about elections. With its sense of powerful forces moving across the landscape, it is descriptive of how these new governments came to power – carried into the state by mass mobilisations from below. The question, however, is how far and in what direction can these governments go in transforming the region?
The sweep of the pink tide across the central Andes has been associated with populism. From Hugo Chávez and his successor, Nicolás Maduro, in Venezuela, to Evo Morales in Bolivia, and Rafael Correa in Ecuador, more than in any other region the Andean New Left has been associated with leadership styles and approaches to governing that many have characterized as populist.