While scholars have tended to view the rise of Evo Morales in the light of a regional resurgence of populism, the author argues that we may gain better insight into the significance and role of Morales when viewed against a backdrop of Bolivian political and social history. In particular, the author suggests that Bolivian political instability is rooted in popular power, and that in this context, it may be useful to regard populism itself as a feature of Bolivian political development, rather than as a distinct political phenomenon.