Latin American Populist Leaders and the International Stage: Analysing Their Belief Systems

Consuelo Thiers, Leslie E. Wehner

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter or section


This chapter focuses on how Latin American populist leaders make sense of International Organisations (IOs). The literature on populism in International Relations stresses that populist leaders erode the liberal international order in which multilateral institutions are its building blocks. However, left-wing and right-wing populist leaders indefectibly remain part of these institutions despite remaining critical of them. By analysing what leaders say in these institutions, this chapter explores populist leaders’ belief systems. In doing so, this work will be able to assess differences and similarities in their perception of these institutions. The chapter relies on the benefits of the Operational Code Analysis to study how Evo Morales, Hugo Chávez, Jair Bolsonaro, and Nayib Bukele make sense of the multilateral through what they communicate in IOs. This study found that populist leaders’ belief systems differ substantially from other leaders in the Latin American region. It also showed that left-wing populists have more elements in common than right-leaning leaders. Left-leaning leaders share their negative assessment of the international as well as fewer cooperative tactics and strategies. On the other hand, right-leaning leaders present similar beliefs regarding the predictability of the political future and their preference for expressions of threat in the international arena.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPolitical Communication and Performative Leadership
Subtitle of host publicationPopulism in International Politics
EditorsCorina Lacatus, Gustav Meibauer, Georg Löfflmann
Place of PublicationLondon, U. K.
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9783031416408
ISBN (Print)9783031416392
Publication statusPublished - 8 Nov 2023

Publication series

NamePalgrave Macmillan Series in International Political Communication
VolumePart F1691
ISSN (Print)2945-6118
ISSN (Electronic)2945-6126


  • Beliefs systems
  • International organisations
  • Latin America
  • Leadership styles
  • Operational code analysis
  • Populist leaders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Political Science and International Relations


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