Monday, October 15, 2012

MEO and populism

A story in the Santiago Times takes a CERC poll showing Chileans' dissatisfaction with the economy, and then makes the argument that this opens the door to Marco Enriquez-Ominami as a populist candidate.

The "will Chile see populism?" question has been floating around for quite some time, and MEO gets attention because he's the only politician who remotely qualifies as populist. But this article does not ask the question of whether people support him, or even the basic ideas of populism more generally. The obvious parallel is the United States, where dissatisfaction is not generating a populist candidate from outside the main parties.

A different but related question is whether MEO is even populist at all. He is closely tied to the establishment, and simply attaching himself to education is not automatically "populist" in the way the term is most commonly used to describe Latin American politics.

In sum, we have two things going on here, but the causal relationship isn't necessarily clear. Are Chileans really looking to change the "institutional order"? Vamos a ver.


Justin Delacour 4:06 PM  

"The obvious parallel is the United States, where dissatisfaction is not generating a populist candidate from outside the main parties."

I'm not sure there's much basis for drawing the parallel, though, as the U.S. doesn't have a run-off system that gives a candidate from outside the traditional parties a better chance of gaining political momentum (as MEO's previous run showed).

I agree with you, however, that there might not be much basis for calling MEO a populist.

Countdown to November 5:04 PM  

While I certainly wouldn't call myself an expert on Latin American politics and haven't yet covered it on my own blog (I think you've inspired me though), I think part of the reason that the populist Pink Tide never took root in Chile is because not only have economic conditions been consistently better in Chile (much because of Pinochet's previous, authoritarian rule), but also the left, or rather the moderate center-left was already in power when the populist Pink Tide swept across the region.

Furthermore, the fact that Michelle Bachalet was moderate in her approach showed just how different she was from the likes of Evo and Chavez.

In other words, there never was and there continues to be absolutely no peephole for a populist insurgency. No matter what MEO's goals are and no matter what his Socialist Party puts forward, unless some realigning crisis comes to the surface, populism itself will not take root.

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