Latin American Political Outsiders, Revisited: The Case of Marco Enríquez-Ominami in Chile, 2009

Kenneth Bunker, Patricio Navia

Abstract


This article applies the debate on the recent emergence of outsider candidates in Latin America to independent presidential candidate Marco Enríquez-Ominami (ME-O) in Chile in 2009. We test five competing hypotheses to explain his electoral success. First, his support is explained by the consolidation of democracy, reflected by the disposition of voters to disregard the authoritarian/democratic-aligned candidates. Second, his support is explained by the decline of ideological identification, reflected by the disposition of voters to prefer nontraditional candidates. Third, his support is explained by the resurgence of the Left, reflected by the disposition of voters to identify with anti-Washington Consensus candidates. Fourth, his support is explained by the demand for quick government action, reflected in the predisposition of voters to consider candidates who will solve problems fast even if they do not ask voters for their opinions. Fifth, his support is explained by the declining support for established parties, reflected by the predisposition of voters to favor antisystemic candidates. We use survey data to test these hypotheses. We find no evidence to support the claims that ME-O fits any of the explanations. Though he was widely referred to as an outsider, his success seems to respond to national affairs rather than to a regional pattern.

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