The Department of Government
The Department of Government

Comparative Speaker Series- Caitlin Andrews (UT)

"The Revival of Charisma: A Study of Peronism and Chavismo"

Mon, September 25, 2017 | BAT 5.108

12:00 PM - 1:30 PM

Summary:  Scholars have long claimed that political movements founded by charismatic leaders must undergo “routinization,” or depersonalization, to survive. Yet such movements have sustained their personalistic character and have persisted or reemerged in cases as diverse as Argentina, Venezuela, Peru, Tunisia, and Turkey. Focusing on Argentine Peronism and Venezuelan Chavismo, I investigate the trajectories of charismatic movements after their founders disappear. At the micro-level, two survey experiments show that new leaders can implement strategic cues to reactivate citizens’ deep, emotional attachments to the movement’s founder and thus garner political support. At the macro-level, analyses of one leader who successfully reactivated citizens’ attachments (Argentine President Carlos Menem) and one who failed (Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro) illustrate that the mode in which aspiring successors rise to power shapes their ability to resurrect their predecessors’ movements. The results challenge the notion that charismatic movements are short-lived and clarify their impact on party system institutionalization.

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