Political Science, Department of


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A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College of the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: Political Science, Under the Supervision of Professor Ari Kohen. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2011
Copyright 2011 Joseph P. Braun


Despite ample literature on the topic of populism itself, much less has been written on the specific relationship between populism and human rights. First, I discuss the relationship between populist ideology and human rights in theory. I argue that populism is inconsistent with human rights accounts because of its rejection of pluralism and vilification of the ‘other.’ Second, I explore the relationship between populism as a political strategy and its impact on human rights under two Latin American regimes. I argue that despite its tendency to produce short-term gains in economic and social development, a review of the two cases supports the claim that populism by its very nature tends to be adversarial towards basic civil and political human rights. This enmity is amplified when the populist regime exhausts the resources for generous social programs. Furthermore, the combination of a populist regime with a real security threat is found to be a particularly dire situation for human rights.

Adviser: Ari Kohen