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Discontent and the Left Turn in Latin America*

  • Nina Wiesehomeier and David Doyle


The electoral success of the left across Latin America has largely been interpreted as a backlash against globalization and a manifestation of anti-market voting of citizens increasingly frustrated with their experience of representative democracy. However, studies trying to test these propositions show rather inconclusive results and face the problem of translating objective economic conditions into observable individual perceptions. This article contends that theories of subjective well-being in psychology and economics can shed light on this left turn. In particular, life satisfaction, as a manifestation of experienced utility, can help explain the electoral outcomes observed throughout the region. The findings show that support for the left is higher the more unsatisfied voters are under a right incumbent.



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Nina Wiesehomeier is Lecturer in Politics, Department of Political & Cultural Studies Swansea University, James Callaghan Building Singleton Park Swansea SA2 8PP, Wales, UK ( David Doyle is University Lecturer, Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford, Manor Road Building, Manor Road, Oxford, OX1 3UQ, UK ( To view supplementary material for this article, please visit



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Discontent and the Left Turn in Latin America*

  • Nina Wiesehomeier and David Doyle


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