Natalia Garbiras Diaz

Political Science

In my dissertation, I study outsider candidates’ decisions in terms of their location along the policy dimension and the type of rhetoric employed when appealing to voters. Outsider candidates are changing the way elections are run. The most well-known outsider candidates who have won office share a populist style and have adopted extreme positions on policy issues, both on the right and on the left of the political spectrum (e.g., Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, Alberto Fujimori in Peru, among others, including Donald Trump in the U.S.). This empirical observation has, in turn, led the literature on outsider candidates to focus almost exclusively on describing and studying the consequences of anti-establishment/extremist candidates. These studies have overlooked important variations between outsider candidates. Notably, the last presidential elections in France, Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, among other countries, all included moderate outsiders running for office, who did not campaign on a populist style nor on extremist positions. However, while the literature has documented the strategic reasons why outsider candidates might locate at one extreme of the political spectrum or will rely on a populist style, little work has focused on moderate outsider candidates or those who opt not to rely on an anti-establishment rhetoric. Hence, why some outsider candidates strategically locate at the center of the political spectrum or, more generally, why we observe such variation in the locations adopted by different types of outsiders remains unexplored. My dissertation studies these issues. By focusing on candidates running with new parties and movements in the past three decades in Latin America, I will explore the types of strategies that new entrants adopt, and how voters respond to these.