The Unraveling of Representative Democracy in Venezuela
Publication Year: 2004
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
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A Saudi-like oligarchy that created a corrupt, exclusionary, and deeply flawed democracy in which poverty reigned despite the nation’s immense oil riches. A charismatic army o≈cer who gave voice to the anger and the hopes of the poor, who was able to gain power through fair and free elections, and who, once in...
Preface and Acknowledgments
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We initiated this project at the March 2000 LASA Congress after discussing theneed to better understand the demise of Venezuela’s Punto Fijo democracy inorder to understand its replacement. We both had long and deep involvementin Venezuela, Myers going back to the late 1960s with his doctoral research andMcCoy to the early 1980s with her doctoral research. Since then, we both...
List of Abbreviations
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The unraveling of an apparently consolidated representative democratic regime poses new theoretical challenges for comparative politics. Early literature on democratic transition and consolidation focused on identifying the conditions and paths by which those transitions would ‘‘consolidate’’ into institutionalized liberal democracies...
PART I: Antecedents: The Foundations of the Punto Fijo Regime of Representative Democracy
1 The Normalization of Punto Fijo Democracy
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The unbroken thread of Venezuelan democracy dates from January 1, 1959, when R�mulo Betancourt took the oath as president, less than a month after his victory in the national elections of December 5. This fledgling political regime, known as Punto Fijo democracy, withstood challenges over four decades from neighboring...
PART II: The Actors: Making Political Demands
2 Urban Poor and Political Order
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The convergence of economic and political crises throughout the 1980s and 1990s contributed to the unraveling of Venezuela’s representative democracy. As a result of these crises, mass dissatisfaction with the institutions and policies implemented by the Punto Fijo regime paved the way for the emergence of a charismatic leader who appealed...
3 The Military: From Marginalization to Center Stage
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On the evening of April 11, 2002, the third day of a general strike against the government, the Venezuelan armed forces rebelled against their president, Hugo Ch�vez Fr�as. Reacting to the bloody outcome of clashes between pro and antigovernment demonstrators near the presidential palace, the commander of the...
4 Entrepreneurs: Profits without Power?
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Venezuela’s private sector, in contrast to most of its regional counterparts, was diverse and powerful in 1958 when the Pacto de Punto Fijo was signed.1 At the beginning of the twentieth century, when agriculture and commerce predominated and petroleum played no significant role, names such as Vollmer, Boulton, Phelps, Delfino, Mendoza,...
5 Civil Society: Late Bloomers
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The crisis and decline of the political system governed by the parties, which were once the fundamental channels for citizen representation and participation,as well as channels for articulating popular demands, left a vacuum that spurred the politicization of social and cultural actors, such as civil society organizations and the media...
6 Intellectuals: An Elite Divided
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Comprehensive examination of a political regime in the ‘‘gray zone’’ (Carothers, 2002; Myers and McCoy, 2003) requires analyzing diverse inputs from its environment (Easton, 1966). This chapter addresses the role of writers, journalists, and scholars, whose engagement in opinion formation by articulating positions on political issues...
7 The United States and Venezuela: From a Special Relationship to Wary Neighbors
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Venezuela at the beginning of the twenty-first century is much changed from the country that U.S. policy makers dealt with during the first three decades of the Punto Fijo era. Three changes have great import for Venezuela-U.S. relations: (1) the country is in the midst of a prolonged political and economic crisis; (2) the once admired model...
8 The Unraveling of Venezuela’s Party System: From Party Rule to Personalistic Politics and Deinstitutionalization
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The political transformations through which Venezuela passed in the last decade of the twentieth century included, along with the other changes examined in this volume, a profound change in its system of political parties. The mid- 1990s system of national political parties, like its immediate predecessor, had roots in the 1940s...
PART III: Policy Making and Its Consequences
9 Decentralization: Key to Understanding a Changing Nation
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Many Latin American countries have moved along the path of decentralization, a type of state design which normally strengthens and expands democratic institutions. Until recently Venezuela, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico had moved farthest in this direction...
10 The Syndrome of Economic Decline and the Quest for Change
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The Venezuelan economy spun out of control sometime in the 1970s after many years of stability and high growth. Successive governments applied different approaches to solving the deep problems that spread from the economic system into the very heart of the society. Their failures contributed to a malaise that undermined confidence and generated competing theories of what had gone wrong....
11 Public Opinion, Political Socialization, and Regime Stabilization
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This chapter examines the relationship between public opinion, political socialization, and regime stability in post-1958 Venezuela by addressing four puzzles. The first asks how the innovative policies pursued by those who founded the Punto Fijo polity created opinions that facilitated regime normalization and political stability...
PART IV: Conclusion
12 From Representative to Participatory Democracy? Regime Transformation in Venezuela
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The conditions that facilitated the institutionalization of the Punto Fijo system during the 1960s had changed by the 1990s. The dramatic transformation from a poor, rural society to one that was urbanized and characterized by a highly unequal distribution of wealth between an expanded upper middle class and slum dwellers was...
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On August 15, 2004, Hugo Ch�vez defied his opposition to resoundingly defeat a recall referendum seeking to end his term early. The shocked opposition refused to accept the 59 percent to 41 percent vote favoring Ch�vez and searched for evidence of fraud...
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List of Contributors
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Page Count: 376
Illustrations: 20 line drawings
Publication Year: 2004