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Populism and Neopopulism in Latin America: Clientelism, Trade Union Organisation and Electoral Support in Mexico and Argentina in the ‘90s


  • Veronica Ronchi

    (Università degli Studi di Milano)


The state of anomie that has characterised and still characterises most Latin American countries, resulting from the fragmentation of the social fabric, has encouraged the rise of successful personalist leaderships in the ‘90s. This paper aims at investigating how neopopulism developed in Latin America, considering as main actors the two Presidents who have best embodied this ideal: Carlos Salinas de Gortari, (Mexico 1988-1994) and Carlos Menem (Argentina 1989-1999). Neopopulism is based on an economic project, the neoliberal policy based on cuts in the welfare, which seems very far from the populist positions of the past. Populism revives through the charisma of these Presidents, bypassing institutional or organisational forms of mediation between the leader and the masses. The development of selected social policies has gained strong political support from the lower classes, including extensive institutional reforms.

Suggested Citation

  • Veronica Ronchi, 2007. "Populism and Neopopulism in Latin America: Clientelism, Trade Union Organisation and Electoral Support in Mexico and Argentina in the ‘90s," Working Papers 2007.41, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  • Handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2007.41

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    More about this item


    Latin America; Mexico; Argentina; ’90s; Populism; Neopopulism;

    JEL classification:

    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • J88 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - Public Policy
    • N16 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Latin America; Caribbean
    • N26 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - Latin America; Caribbean
    • N36 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Latin America; Caribbean
    • N46 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Latin America; Caribbean

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