Contemporary Left-wing Populism in Latin America: Leadership, Horizontalism, and Post-democracy in Chávez’s Venezuela
A critical engagement with the case of ‘Chavismo’ in Venezuela can offer valuable insights for a fuller understanding of contemporary populism in Latin America. While, for some, Chávez’s populism has fostered popular empowerment, others dwell on the newly confirmed tensions between populism, liberal rights and democratic proceduralism. The paper embraces both positions but moves beyond their one-sidedness in order to cast Chavista populism as an inherently contradictory phenomenon, which has constituted an ambivalent and transitory process in response to the gradual closure of liberal (post-)democracy. Chavista ‘caesaro-plebeian’ populism is construed as a site of tension and contention, which bears both promises and dangers for democracy. To make these points, the paper draws on the discursive analysis of populism as well as on a new, productive shift in the study of populism in Venezuela, which pursues an ethnographic field research of social movements rather than focusing exclusively on the figure of the leader.
Αριστοτέλειο Πανεπιστήμιο Θεσσαλονίκης, Σχολή Οικονομικών και Πολιτικών Επιστημών, Τμήμα Πολιτικών Επιστημών
Latin American Politics and Society, vol.58 no.3  p.51-76
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