Social Policies and Center-Right Governments in Argentina and Chile




Latin America’s “left turn” expanded cash transfers and public services, contributing to lower poverty and inequality. Recently, right-leaning candidates and parties have begun to win back seats in the legislature, and in some cases have captured the executive branch. This shift has sparked debate about the future of Latin America’s welfare states. This article analyzes social policy reforms enacted by two recent right-leaning governments: that of Sebastián Piñera in Chile (2010–14) and Mauricio Macri in Argentina (2015–). It finds that contrary to neoliberal adjustment policies of the past, neither Macri nor Piñera engaged in privatization or deep spending cuts. Instead, both administrations facilitated a process of policy drift in some sectors and marginal expansion in others. Policy legacies and the strength of the opposition help to explain these outcomes, suggesting that Latin America’s political context has been transformed by the consolidation of democracy and the experience of left party rule.

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Copyright © 2017, John Wiley & Sons Inc. This article first appeared in Latin American Politics and Society 59:3 (2017), 72-97.

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