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Latin America's crisis of expectations

Demonstrators stand near a large inflatable doll depicting former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva during his corruption trial. Photo: Denis Ferreira Netto / AP.

In Latin America, where inequality has been falling for a decade, the growing middle class is facing a crisis of expectations, as wealthier citizens now expect better roads, schools, hospitals and law enforcement. Only 15% of people in the region approve of their political parties, and barely a third think their governments are doing a good job, according to a new study.

Why it matters: Four of the region's largest economies – Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico – will pick new leaders in the next year, and anti-establishment candidates are increasingly competitive in all of those races. This is the most unpredictable electoral cycle since the region's transition to democracy three decades ago.