Left- vs. Right-Wing Populism: Similarity and Differences

Evo Morales (Left-Wing Populist)

When Morales took office in 2005, he formed a coalition involving miners, peasants, indigenous peasants, and landless peasants. He ruled using left-wing populism by promoting social and civil rights. He made a call that focused on democratic revolution and socio-cultural development (Kohl, 2010). During his reign, he demanded that oil and gas be nationalized, steered reforms on land, and created a legal assembly that would help form equity for every Bolivian citizen, especially the indigenous people (Kohl, 2010). Morales’ agenda was to give citizens their national identity and bring them resources and land like it was before colonial and post-colonial times.

He geared the restructurings of the political systems through the enactment of the liberal institution game during the introduction of a new constitution in Bolivia. Through Morales’s rule, democracy in Bolivia has dramatically expanded, and the liberal democratic institutions have aided in the formation of participatory dimensions and self-government at local levels (Walker, 2008). The coalition utilized by Morales to gain power employed a revolutionary force that sought to reinstate the country permanently. This is because Bolivia required restructuring out of the corrupt political institutions whose interest was in foreign powers and the local elites. Morales’ distinction from the right populists is that he focused on equality, where he pursued equity for every Bolivian citizen (Walker, 2008). He sought reforms against neoliberalism at the time of pacted democracy.

Hugo Chavez (Left-Wing Populist)

Hugo Chavez of Venezuela also portrays left-wing populism through his leadership strategy and style. Hugo employed expansion of the health sector, included racial minorities in the governmental agendas, introduced the movement towards 21st-century socialism, welcomed immigrants into Venezuela, and expropriated corporations (Cannon & Barry, 2009). Despite criticism from various political figures, Chavez continuously applauded the poor and the low-income people of Venezuela. During his reign, he tried to improve the living conditions of these groups of people through the provision of various dignified methods of existence (Zúquete, 2008). Through this, he contravened several liberal democratic virtues and formed different virtues to create participatory democracy in Venezuela. The outcome resulted in the degradation of free-market capitalism and the encouragement of community-focused and state-led exertions.

At the domestic level, he utilized the revenue generated from the oil industry to lower the level of inequality in the country and at the global level. He also sought the development of multi-polar systems that differs from US imperialism. Chavez pursued several policies that would end the political and economic elites who have wielded power all over Venezuela (Ellner & Steve, 2008). Such policies include redirection of the oil revenue to combat illiteracy, social sector expansion, poverty, and lack of food and house shortages. Chavez’s idea was to end the domestic elites and the global dons. He contended with various US presidents over imperialism, for example, Clinton and Bush (Cannon & Barry, 2009). Chavez is considered a left-wing populist because he focused on reforms, equality, progress, and rights in Venezuela, as portrayed above.

Boris Johnson (Brexit: Right-Wing Populist)

The present United Kingdom prime minister Boris Johnson is a prominent example of a right-wing populist. He typically portrays how right-wing populist leaders hinder democracy for their benefit and the party’s benefit so that their reign could continue to occupy the government. Boris strategically infringes the government, and at the same time, he remains pleasing to the public (Inglehart & Norris, 2016). The pan-European populist presents xenophobic propaganda to remain appealing in the eye of the public. He focused on attacking elitism to gain popularity among the British people, especially the low economic individual, and at the same time, he encouraged Islamophobia and racism (Inglehart & Norris, 2016). His hostility towards regional and global trade is displayed with the removal of the UK from the European Union.

Brexit has a notable impact on the UK economy as the EU was the largest trading partner of the UK. The economic interest of other countries got harmed since the UK’s exit, which led to international disorder and political conflicts as Boris focused on building new trade partners such as the USA (Gimson, 2015). The Brexit campaign in the UK brought about nativism and nationalism, where the performance of the UK is more important than that of other countries, and the national solutions are cheaper, better, and more important than the solutions of the international bodies (Inglehart & Norris, 2016). The UK’s exit from the EU creates a window of a presented opportunity to undermine the laws and rights that the EU formed. The laws and rights include equality and combat all kinds of discrimination (Gimson, 2015). However, since the reign of Brexit, xenophobia has dramatically expanded. The factors that define Boris Johnson (Brexit) as a right-wing populist and not left-wing are authority, nationalization, and inequality.

Donald Trump (Right-Wing Populist)

Donald Trump is a right-wing populist who employed neo-liberal methods such as a cut on taxes to create a friendly environment for investors who will help grow the USA’s economy and divert it from Europe, China, Mexico, and Japan (Winberg, 2017). According to Trump, foreign countries such as European countries and China are the source of job decrement in the United States of America (Winberg, 2017). He criticizes the social welfare created by his predecessor; for example, the “Obama Care” was set up by former US president Barrack Obama to make health care affordable even to the low earners in the American economy.

Trump focused on nationalization and saw international relations as the source of problems in the USA. He focused on utilizing American power to win trade deals that could be negotiated and result in a win-win (Donovan & Redlawsk, 2018). He believed that other countries need the USA more than the USA needs them. He extended prejudices over women and preached xenophobia in his rule. His xenophobia was extended when he provided his call for not allowing Muslims to enter the USA (Donovan & Redlawsk, 2018). Donald Trump is portrayed as a right-wing and not left-wing populist because of his nationalization agenda, authority, and tradition.

Similarity and Differences Between Left-Wing and Right-Wing Populism


The similarity between left-wing and right-wing populism is that they all apply the same principle of bringing people together and apply the idea of “us” vs. “them” in a political environment (Ellner & Steve, 2008). This is portrayed by Evo Morales, Hugo Chavez, Boris Johnson, and Donald Trump.


The difference between left-wing and right-wing populism is that right-wing populism focuses on the national identity and excludes other identities like refugees and immigrants (Ellner & Steve, 2008). They focus on nationalization, authority, and developing nations without the involvement of foreign countries. On the other hand, left-wing populism focuses on democracy and the involvement of all the groups of individuals in the state (Ellner & Steve, 2008). This type of populism fights against xenophobia and racism. For example, in the USA and UK, xenophobia and racism greatly expanded because of right-wing leaders.


Cannon, & Barry. (2009). Hugo Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution. Web.

Donovan, T., & Redlawsk, D. (2018). Donald Trump and right-wing populists in comparative perspective. Journal of Elections, Public Opinion, and Parties, 28(2), 190-207. Web.

Ellner, & Steve. (2021). Rethinking Venezuelan politics: Class, conflict, and the Chávez phenomenon. Lynne Rienner.

Gimson, A. (2015). Boris: The Rise of Boris Johnson.

Hawkins, K., & Hansen, D. (2006). dependent civil society: The circulos Bolivarianos in Venezuela. Latin American Research Review, 41(1), Web.

Inglehart, R., & Norris, P. (2016). Trump, Brexit, and the rise of populism: Economic have-nots and cultural backlash. SSRN Electronic Journal. Web.

Kohl, B. (2010). Bolivia under Morales. Latin American Perspectives, 37(3), 107-122. Web.

Walker, I. (2008). The Three Lefts of Latin America. Dissent, 55(4), 5-12. Web.

Winberg, O. (2017). Insult Politics: Donald Trump, Right-Wing Populism, and Incendiary Language. European Journal of American Studies, 12(2). Web.

Zúquete, J. (2008). The Missionary Politics of Hugo Chávez. Latin American Politics and Society, 50(1), 91-121. Web.

Cite this paper

Select style


DemoEssays. (2023, January 4). Left- vs. Right-Wing Populism: Similarity and Differences. Retrieved from https://demoessays.com/left-vs-right-wing-populism-similarity-and-differences/


DemoEssays. (2023, January 4). Left- vs. Right-Wing Populism: Similarity and Differences. https://demoessays.com/left-vs-right-wing-populism-similarity-and-differences/

Work Cited

"Left- vs. Right-Wing Populism: Similarity and Differences." DemoEssays, 4 Jan. 2023, demoessays.com/left-vs-right-wing-populism-similarity-and-differences/.


DemoEssays. (2023) 'Left- vs. Right-Wing Populism: Similarity and Differences'. 4 January.


DemoEssays. 2023. "Left- vs. Right-Wing Populism: Similarity and Differences." January 4, 2023. https://demoessays.com/left-vs-right-wing-populism-similarity-and-differences/.

1. DemoEssays. "Left- vs. Right-Wing Populism: Similarity and Differences." January 4, 2023. https://demoessays.com/left-vs-right-wing-populism-similarity-and-differences/.


DemoEssays. "Left- vs. Right-Wing Populism: Similarity and Differences." January 4, 2023. https://demoessays.com/left-vs-right-wing-populism-similarity-and-differences/.