How Populist Leaders are Elected: Latin America and Beyond

Open Access
Ruble, Jessica Fern
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Zachary Morgan, Thesis Supervisor
  • Dr. Kathryn Salzer , Honors Advisor
  • Populism
  • Latin America
  • United States
  • Donald Trump
  • Juan Peron
  • Gertulio Vargas
  • Hugo Chavez
  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Venezuela
Populism is a political phenomenon that has occurred throughout all regions of the world and has spanned many different time periods. It is a political movement that advocates for the will of the common person by opposing what is presented as a corrupt elite. Although populism has historically varied in certain characteristics, such as ideology, a country can predict the likelihood of the election of a populist leader by examining the economic and political trends that predate the election. The focus of this paper is Latin America, the region of the world most affected by populism. Specifically, three case studies are presented: Juan Domingo Perón and Eva Perón in Argentina, Getúlio Vargas in Brazil, and Hugo Chávez in Venezuela. Later, a case study of Donald Trump in the United States demonstrates that certain economic and political trends within the state go beyond the boundaries of Latin America and remain true in different regions of the world.