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The Contrasting Variants of the Populism of Hugo Chávez and Alberto Fujimori


During the 1990s Peru's Alberto Fujimori and Argentina's Carlos Menem were the two main political successes of Latin American populism. Both completed two successive presidential terms, a unique accomplishment in the continent, and overcame the political instability that previously beset their nations. Scholars who analysed these and other contemporary regimes concluded that Latin American populism was flexible and resilient enough to adapt to a radically different environment from that of the 1930s and 1940s, when it had emerged as a major force. Some political scientists labelled as ‘neopopulism’ the newer variant of populism in the context of globalisation and widespread acceptance of neoliberal policies. These scholars stressed two salient features of neopopulism that contrasted with ‘classical populism’ of the 1930s and 1940s: its social base consisting of members of the informal economy, as opposed to the organised working class; and its implementation of neoliberal policies, as against the model of import substitution and state interventionism.

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The author would like to thank Susan Berglund, Miguel Tinker Salas, Paul Drake, Richard Hillman and Ralph Van Roy for their critical comments.
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Journal of Latin American Studies
  • ISSN: 0022-216X
  • EISSN: 1469-767X
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-latin-american-studies
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