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Transitions from Charismatic Rule: Theories of Leadership Change and Cuba’s Post-Fidel Succession


  • Bert Hoffmann

    () (GIGA Institute of Latin American Studies)


For theories of political succession and charismatic authority, the almost half-century long rule of Fidel Castro presents an extraordinary test case since Fidel in July 2006 handed over power ‘temporarily’ to his deputy and brother Raúl. On the background of Max We-ber’s work on charismatic rule, the paper analyzes the way in which the Cuban leadership has responded to the succession question and identifies four aspects in which it differs from the succession problems typically attributed to charismatic rule: Cuba’s longstanding exceptionalism regarding the ‘second man’ behind the leader; the succession during the life-time of the leader with a sui generis modus of ‘cohabitation’ between the outgoing and the incoming leader; the routinization of charisma which domestically allows a bureau-cratic succession model with the Communist Party, rather than any individual, being pos-tulated as Fidel Castro‘s heir; and as a correlate to the latter, the ritual transmission of Fidel’s charisma to a heir beyond the nation-state, Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez, as the new charismatic leader to continue Fidel Castro’s universal revolutionary mission.

Suggested Citation

  • Bert Hoffmann, 2007. "Transitions from Charismatic Rule: Theories of Leadership Change and Cuba’s Post-Fidel Succession," GIGA Working Paper Series 56, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:gig:wpaper:56

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    political succession; leadership change; charismatic authority; Max Weber; Cuba;

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