Neopopulism and neoliberalism in Latin America: Unexpected affinities

  • Kurt Weyland
Development Theory


Why have political populism and economic liberalism coexisted under Presidents Menem in Argentina, Collor in Brazil, and Fujimori in Peru? In order to elucidate this surprising convergence, which established conceptions of populism did not expect, this article stresses some underlying affinities between neoliberalism and the new version of populism emerging in the 1980s. Both neopopulism and neoliberalism seek to win mass support primarily from unorganized people in the informal sector, while marginalizing autonomous organizations of better-off strata and attacking the “political class.” They both apply a top-down, state-centered strategy of wielding political power. Finally, neoliberal efforts to combat Latin America’s deep economic crisis yield some benefits for poorer sectors, to which neopopulist leaders appeal, while imposing especially high costs on many of the better-off opponents of neopopulism.


Informal Sector Comparative International Development World Affair Economic Liberalism Poor Sector 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Vanderbilt UniversityNashville

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