From the republica aristocratica to pan grande: Guillermo Billinghurst and populist politics in early twentieth century Peru

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

First Committee Member

Steve Stein - Committee Chair


The presidential election of 1912 was a milestone in modern Peruvian political history. That year, the masses abruptly appeared on the political scene by supporting the candidacy of Guillermo Billinghurst, a wealthy, upper-class businessman. A scant twenty days before the elections, Billinghurst announced his candidacy and asked Peru's President, Augusto B. Leguia, to postpone the elections. Leguia refused. In response, workers' organizations went on a general strike. Following four days of street demonstrations and violence, Leguia was forced to concede and cancel the elections. In September, 1912, radical workers compelled Peru's Congress to elect Guillermo Billinghurst as the new President of Peru. Following his election, Billinghurst strengthened his relationship with the popular sectors by passing labor legislation in their favor. While labor clearly supported Billinghurst's government, Peru's traditional oligarchy, fearing working class radicalism, called on the military to intervene and save the republic. In February, 1914, Guillermo Billinghurst was ousted in a military coup d'etat and exiled from Peru. This dissertation analyzes the social, economic, and political conditions that led to Billinghurst's successful candidacy. It also focuses on the reasons behind the ultimate failure of his populist government.


History, Latin American; Political Science, General

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