Well, Brad Delong says of Morales’ election, citing Pyrrhus of Epirus, Another Such Victory and We Are Lost, while the Financial Times informs us that the result of the election is likely to cause consternation in the United States.
However, rather than allowing ourselves to fall victim to too much schadenfreude, maybe we would better employ our energies trying to understand why Morales is happening, and why right now. This is where Bo Malmberg comes in handy.
Malmberg is known, among other reasons, for his four phases of the demographic transition idea. Central to the Malmberg thesis is the proposition that the demographic transition leads to age structure changes, and that these can be classified into phases, all the way from childhood to old age, with each phase having its own, defining, characteristics.
Now if we look at the basic life data of Bolivia, we will see that it is a child dominated society( Median age 21.47, fertility 3.8, life expectancy 65.5). Now Malmburg identifies four ‘stylised’ characteristics which serve to typify this stage:
1/. Child dominated societies tend to be inherently politically unstable.
2/. In child abundant economies there is a widespread presence of child labour.
3/ Child dominated societies tend to be prototypically poor.
4/. Child abundant countries have a strong dependence on the exploitation of natural resources.
Now if we look at the schema, and look at Bolivia, maybe we could see that there is some conformity to role type. Nor would we be surprised, as one Bloomberg correspondent apparently was, to find that:
At an anti-U.S. rally in Argentina in early November, 30,000 protesters cheered as Bolivian presidential candidate Evo Morales stepped onto a podium and embraced Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
Basically it should be no great mystery why these countries produce leaders like Morales and Chavez, the real mystery, and the one which should really be occupying our thoughts, is how to break the demographic deadlock which lies behind the headline-grabbing political events.