This research note proposes using a model of coalition formation in the context of cross cutting cleavages to understand the wave of populism in Latin America and the broader Western Hemisphere. Identities in politics can be more readily mobilized to the extent that a particular partition of the electorate is more likely to contribute to a minimal winning coalition. Such structural and strategic approach accounts for the emergence of populist leaderships in Latin America as a response to both the prevailing institutional weaknesses and the growing ethnic and religious cleavages in the form of indigenous self-adscription, as well as linguistic difference, and the emergence of non-Catholic religious practices. The research note provides a simple statistical test, carried out through a Cox proportional hazards duration model, estimating the delay in the ascent of populist leaders to executive office. Populism can be seen as a political strategy to capitalize on shifting demographic patterns mobilizing available partners that can form new majorities.
Journal of Political Institutions and Political Economy, Volume 3, Issue 1 Special Issue - The Political Economy of Populism, Part II
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