We seek to disentangle the process through which some democratic polities ‘escape’ from neoliberal rule while others do not. We understand neoliberalism as the resulting equilibrium provoked by the restoration of class power that undermined the pro-labour policies of the post-war period. Why do some democracies enter a route of political experimentation that challenges the status quo while others remain ‘trapped’ in an orthodox neoliberal settlement? Our argument is that for a democratic polity to initiate a transition from neoliberal rule, there needs to be a crisis of neoliberal rule, a compelling alternative willing to contend for state power in national elections, and a reliable democratic settlement that allows the victory of the challenger – that is, the alternative – over the neoliberal rulers. This model will be discussed by examining the following three cases: Argentina, Greece, and Mexico.
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