The Types of Populism in Latin America

There are several types of variations of populism in Latin America. Whether it be rooted in a historical context, or it is originated because of other reaons. The existence of populist political parties in Latin America are historically rooted post-Marxist institutionalized parties of the left (The Brazilian PT), left-leaning governments rooted in preexisting populist parties (Argentina’s Peronist Government), populist governments based on top-down political mobilization via charismatic leadership (Chavismo), and the leftist governments based on new social movements (Evo Morales in Bolivia).

One of the major things that I want to look at in this paper is the differing between the bad populism that has plagued Venezuela, and the successes of populism that we have seen in countries like Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, and Argentina. Lula rose to the Presidency of Brazil because the populist movement he attracted, and many Brazilians, other than the opposition party, Lula favorables in Brazil were very good. Under Lula, Brazil devloped their economy into a global economy and Brazil became known as a BRIC country, he also lifted millions out of absolute poverty. Dilma did not have the same success as Lula, but much of that is political posturing by the opposition party. Uruguay and Chile have some of the strongest democratic institutions in Latin America. So there has been some successful cases of populism in Latin America.

My hypothesis aboout populism is it can be dangerous when democratic institutions are weakened because of a concentration of power, change in constitution, and a decrease in checks and balances. This is what has happened in Venezuela, Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador. The type of populism that has been going on in Venezuela has spread to countries like Ecuador and Bolivia. I don’t think populism in general is dangerous to the institution of liberal democracy, but I think that populism can be used to raise important questions in a democrcacy and address problems such as economic inequality, technocrats, elite politicians, and a messy swamp. Populistic mobilization happens when too much power is concentrated among the elites and large companies control politicians, nationalism wavers, or a cultural change occurs such because of immigration. If we look at the rise of Trump, Brexit, these are the types of themes we see.

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