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Friend or foe? When political elites evaluate foreign leaders


Leaders are themselves key actors in international relations; in recent years, Hugo Chávez and Pope Francis have had an expressive impact beyond their respective traditional influence areas. Why do such leaders display this kind of popularity? More importantly, how do political elites perceive them? This paper aims to identify, employing evidence from eighteen Latin American parliaments, what drives political elite evaluations of a variety of notorious leaders in the last decade. To determine which factors are behind their evaluations, we rely on a friend-foe approach of politics, as measured by the ideological distance between the legislator her/himself and the leader. The results point that this friend-foe logic is the main predictor when it comes to the evaluation of elites by elites in the international arena.

Elites; Leadership; Ideological distance; Presidents; Latin America

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