Political Theory
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Understanding Latin American anti-populism

Eduardo Enríquez Arévalo Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar
Abstract
Anti-populism, an understudied political phenomenon, is antagonistic opposition to what it names-pejoratively-as “populism”. It goes beyond criticism of aspects of a populist movement or government to become a radical antagonist to it. The anti-populist socio-political field can be a transideological one capable of including right wing, liberal and left sectors, even though right wing and liberal sectors will tend to have predominance over left wing ones within it. The antagonistic relationship between populism and anti-populism tends towards a polarized political field if consolidated and expanded. In Latin America, even though it comes from a defense of liberal democracy, anti-populism has supported or paved the way for anti-democratic coups against perceived “populist” governments. Classist, racist and neoliberal economic discourses are historically prominent in Latin American anti-populism. This shows historic socio-political forms and narratives linked to economic, social, and ethnic cleavages of the region manifesting in political conflict around populism.
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