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The Politics of Succession in Charismatic Movements: Routinization versus Revival in Argentina, Venezuela, and Peru

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Scholars suggest that charismatic movements must institutionalize to survive beyond the death of the founder. Yet charismatic movements around the world that have maintained their personalistic nature have persisted or reemerged. This article investigates the conditions under which politicians can use their predecessors’ charismatic legacies to revive these movements and consolidate power. I argue that three conditions—the mode of leadership selection, the presence of a crisis, and the ability to conform to the founder’s personalistic nature—shape successors’ capacity to pick up their forefather’s mantle and restore the movement to political predominance. To demonstrate my theory, I trace the process through which some leaders succeeded while others failed to embody the founder’s legacy across three charismatic movements: Argentine Peronism, Venezuelan Chavismo, and Peruvian Fujimorismo.

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Appeared or available online: September 5, 2019

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