Skip to main content
Voices of the People: Populism in Europe and Latin America Compared
  • Cas Mudde, DePauw University

While populism is a hotly debated topic around the world, most scholarship suffers from conceptual confusion and regional singularity. This paper compares European and Latin American populism, on the basis of a clear minimum definition, along three dimensions that dominate the scholarly literature on the topic: 1) economy vs. identity; 2) left-wing vs. rightwing; and 3) inclusion vs. exclusion. Empirically, our particular focus is on four prototypical cases of the predominant type of populism in these regions in the 1990–2010 period: Jörg Haider and the Freitheitliche Partei Österreichs (Austrian Freedom Party, FPÖ) and Jean-Marie Le Pen of the French Front National (National Front, FN) in Europe, and Bolivian President Evo Morales and his Movimiento al Socialismo (Movement for Socialism, MAS) and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and his Movimiento V [Quinta] República (Fifth Republic Movement, MVR) in Latin America. While our findings confirm some generally held beliefs, they also challenge and clarify some others. Among the more notable conclusions are: 1) populism in Latin America is more ethnic than populism in Europe; 2) the difference between “right-wing” populists in Europe and “left-wing” populists in Latin American is mainly a consequence of their affiliated ideologies, not their populism; 3) in material, political, and symbolic terms European populism is primarily exclusionary, while Latin American populism is predominantly inclusionary; and 4) populism is more important in Latin America than in Europe in electoral, political, and ideological terms.

Publication Date
July, 2011
Citation Information
Cas Mudde. "Voices of the People: Populism in Europe and Latin America Compared" (2011)
Available at: