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The political economy of post-neoliberalism in Bolivia: Policies, elites, and the MAS government


Jonas Wolff

Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF) Frankfurt, DE
About Jonas
Jonas Wolff is executive board member and head of the research department “Intrastate Conflict” at the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF). His research focuses on the transfor-mation of political orders, contentious politics, international democracy promotion, and Latin American politics. Recent publications include Socioeconomic Protests in MENA and Latin America (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019, co-edited with I Weipert-Fenner) and The negotiation of democracy promotion (Democratization Special Issue, 2019, co-edited with AE Poppe and J Leininger).
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With the ebbing of the pink tide, the MAS government in Bolivia remains as one of the most successful leftist governments that had been elected throughout Latin America since the late 1990s. In order to better understand this surprising success story, this paper analyses the political economy of the post-neoliberal model that has taken shape under MAS rule. More specifically, it looks at the interaction between the strategic orientation and the specific features of economic policy-making in Bolivia, on the one hand, and the evolving relationship of the MAS government with the country’s economic elites, on the other. The paper argues that Bolivia’s specific version of post-neoliberalism has facilitated increasingly cooperative relations between the government and economic elites, while the latter have themselves contributed to the consolidation of the former. At the same time, the analysis of the political economy of Bolivian post-neoliberalism also reveals its inherent fragility. 

 Resumen: La economía política del postneoliberalismo boliviano: Política, elites y el gobierno MAS

Con el flujo de la marea rosa, el gobierno del MAS en Bolivia sigue siendo uno de los gobiernos izquierdistas elegidos más exitosos de toda América Latina desde finales de los años noventa. Para comprender mejor esta sorprendente historia de éxito, este artículo analiza la economía política del modelo post-neoliberal que ha tomado forma bajo el gobierno del MAS. Más específicamente, analiza la interacción entre la orientación estratégica y las características específicas de la formulación de políticas económicas en Bolivia, por un lado, y la relación en evolución del gobierno del MAS con las élites económicas del país, por otro. Se argumenta que la versión específica del post-neoliberalismo de Bolivia ha facilitado relaciones cada vez más cooperativas entre el gobierno y las élites económicas, quienes han contribuido a la consolidación de las primeras. Al mismo tiempo, el análisis de la economía política del posneoliberalismo boliviano también revela su fragilidad inherente. 

How to Cite: Wolff, J. (2019). The political economy of post-neoliberalism in Bolivia: Policies, elites, and the MAS government. European Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, (108), 109–129. DOI:
Published on 18 Dec 2019.
Peer Reviewed


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