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Latin American Populist Authoritarian Inclusion

In: Comparative Political Theory
Author:
Carlos de la Torre University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, US, delatorre.carlos@latam.ufl.edu

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Abstract

This article discusses how scholars have analyzed left populist governments in Latin America that include the previously excluded on the condition of their loyalty to the leader. It shows how different normative understandings of democracy have allowed the classification of populism as democratizing, a risk to democracy that could lead to competitive authoritarianism, or a sui generis combination of inclusion and authoritarianism. The paper distinguishes inclusion from democratization, and populists seeking power, from populists in governments, and populist regimes. It argues that the notion of polarized populist democracies captures better their autocratic and inclusionary practices. Populists maintain a commitment to elections hence selectively preserving rights to pluralism, free expression, and association. At the same time, they are authoritarian because populist leaders assume that they embody the people and consider that a section of the population represents the people as a whole, and that their mission is to redeem the people.

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