Pandemic populism and permanent campaigning: How Central American presidents build political legitimacy on Facebook
Salas Jiménez, María Fernanda
Siles González, Ignacio
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This article examines how Carlos Alvarado and Nayib Bukele, presidents of Costa Rica and El Salvador, respectively, employed Facebook throughout 2020 to communicate about the COVID-19 pandemic. The study draws on content analysis of 1584 posts made by both presidents on Facebook throughout 2020. The article argues that Alvarado and Bukele turned the pandemic into a means to build political legitimacy in their specific political context through two main strategies: populist communication and permanent campaigning. Whereas Alvarado relied on these strategies to demonstrate that he was in control of the country amid mounting backlash, Bukele infused both strategies with a religious imaginary to attack political opponents and perform the role of El Salvador's messiah. This analysis broadens the understanding of the relationship between populist communication and permanent campaigning in two main ways. First, by employing a comparative approach to identify singularities and differences in the ways that presidents built political legitimacy during the pandemic in a largely under-examined region (Central America). Second, by situating findings within a wide temporal perspective that included posts in an entire calendar year and comparisons with Alvarado's and Bukele's presidential campaigns.
External link to the item10.1177/17480485221139440
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