Think tanks and the electoral process: lessons from Latin America

6 October 2014
SERIES Think tanks and elections 17 items

[Editor’s note: This post was written by Enrique Mendizabal and Leandro Echt. It is the first of a series of 8 posts on a Latin American think tanks’ initiative aimed at influencing electoral processes that will be published over the next two weeks. The series has been edited by Leandro Echt as part of a collaboration between On Think Tanks and CIPPEC. It has been published at VIPPAL in Spanish, and at On Think Tanks as part of the Guest Editor initiative launched last year.]

Some thinktankers may suggest that electoral years are dead for think tanks: they are not good for research or for communicating their findings because they do not know who might win and what they will decide to do -and so it is best to wait until after the elections.

Some Latin American think tanks would disagree: for them, this is the time to get busy. Particularly, if we consider that, with some exceptions, electoral campaigns in Latin America do not generally involve serious debates over strategic policy issues this is a time when think tanks can really show their worth and change, not just policy but also the policy context.

Although there are numerous cases in the region in which think tanks have embarked in initiatives to influence electoral campaigns, this role has been under-studied. Therefore this series of blog posts intends to shed some light on those experiences. Indeed, if we address Latin American think tanks’ experiences in influencing electoral processes, we are able to identify some common features of what Fernando Straface, Executive Director of CIPPEC, has called “a Latin American technology of influence” in electoral campaigns. A technology we’d like to export to other regions.

This first post introduces some of the cases found in the region. The series does not pretend to be exhaustive, and we hope that other experiences out there that we are not aware of will come forward.

Upcoming posts include:

These articles are complemented by more recent reflections from Enrique Mendizabal, Estefania Terán and Camila Ulloa Torres.