This volume examines a central conundrum of Latin American politics. How is that the triumph of neoliberal-inspired economic restructuring in the 1980s and 90s did not cause the political demise of populist movements? What is remarkable, as these scholars show, is that Latin American populist parties, which had long been associated with statist, quasi-Keynesian, even demagogic economic policies, have survived the transition to the much harsher era of free markets, privatisation, unemployment and increasing inequality. And without apparently losing their political popularity, in contrast both to the far left and traditional oligarchic parties. Indeed Latin American populist forces seem to have made neoliberalism their own.
The Editors have carefully chosen from South and Central America a representative set of countries through which to explore this phenomenon - Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Mexico, El Salvador and Nicaragua.
What emerges is an up-to-date, nuanced modern political history of Latin America which does full justice to the distinctive political paths of each country while at the same time making clear the significant extent to which the region's populist tradition as a whole has adapted to the new economic realities. This is in marked contrast to the very different political trajectories of Africa and Asia in the past two decades.