Sunday, December 16, 2012

Populism and the Future

The Guardian makes a brief comparison between Chavismo and Peronism, arguing that even if Chavez dies now he will leave a long shadow.

True, but it is useful to remember that a movement's direction can be unpredictable. If you had told an Argentine in the 1950s that in 30-40 years Peronism would be the party of austerity and international capitalism, and that a Peronist would tie his country's economy very tightly to the U.S. dollar, they would not have believed you. It's also worth remembering that Juan Peron personally groomed Carlos Menem as an up and coming political leader. The Kirchners then brought the movement back more in line with its origins. Who knows what the next batch of Peronists will do?

Once the charismatic, outsized leader is gone, all bets are off. There will always be Chavismo, and its leader--or even competing leaders--will invoke Hugo Chavez and his revolutionary triumphs. But its precise nature will evolve and at times may not resemble today's Chavismo at all.


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