Though the nations of Central and South America are historically known for frequent political shake-ups, the circumstances of 2018 are unique: As reported by Financial Times, five nations, including regional anchors like Brazil, Mexico and Colombia, will elect new presidents later this year.
Many of the most high-profile candidates have focused closely on their countries' economies as part of their campaigning. In countries like Venezuela, Brazil and Cuba, all of which have seen considerable economic upheaval during the past two decades, such concerns are already likely at the forefront of voters' minds.
Political corruption, particularly graft related to businesses with prominent standing in the Latin American economy, will also play a significant role in 2018's races.
Since 2014, two Brazilian presidents have been ousted for taking bribes and other acts of financial malfeasance, and their successor Michel Temer remains the subject of an investigation by the nation's attorney general for allegations of accepting corporate kickbacks. In Mexico, progressive presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador currently leads in various polls due to his populist economic sentiments and anti-corruption message.
Venezuela faces perhaps the biggest struggle heading into its 2018 election, which may not be recognized by many word nations, as its economy - already defaulted on $60 billion in loans - continues to free-fall.
That said, the socialist nation is an anomaly for the region. In its most recent World Economic Outlook Update, the International Monetary Fund noted the effects Venezuela would have on Latin America but stated that the region's projected 2018 economic growth of 1.9 percent should more than make up for any of those losses. Major drivers of this growth, like exports and consumption, are projected to continue in 2018, while metrics like investment that underperformed in 2017 should show more favorable progress.