The authors show how the consensual market oriented policymaking that characterized almost all of South America in the 1990s has now given way to something quite different. Polarization and intense political conflict have returned to much of the region. Although the Left has not always been the beneficiary of this changed pattern, the ‘21st century' governments of Chavez, Morales and Correa have been agenda setters. The questions raised by their emergence, style of governance and policy orientations resonate across Latin America and beyond. It is likely that the kind of politics with which they have been associated will be influential in the region for quite some time to come.