A Theory of Hegemonic Stability in South American Regionalism? Evidence from the Case of Brazil in UNASUR and Venezuela in ALBA

Uma Teoria de Estabilidade Hegemônica para o Regionalismo Sul-Americano? Evidências do Caso do Brasil na UNASUL e da Venezuela na ALBA

María Victoria Alvarez About the author

Abstract

Both Brazil and Venezuela structured their foreign policy agendas in the early 21st century on the projection of their respective leadership in regional schemes such as UNASUR and ALBA, respectively, following an intermediate hegemonic strategy. The loss of dynamism of these post-hegemonic initiatives problematizes the relationship between regional governance and the role of regional powers. ALBA is a scheme contingent on the political cycle and political voluntarism intrinsic in Venezuela’s leadership. The bloc has lost members and relevance in recent years. As for UNASUR, most of its member states have withdrawn from the bloc and it is currently not operating. In short, post-hegemonic proposals lose dynamism and support once the leadership that promoted them weakens. A certain ‘hegemonic stability theory’ contextualized to South America with regard to the leadership of Brazil and Venezuela in recent years seems to be fulfilled: the decline in power of these countries helps to account for political reversals and changes in regional governance.

Keywords
South American regionalism; UNASUR; ALBA; intermediate hegemony; Brazil; Venezuela.

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