Autocratic Legalism in Venezuela


This paper contributes to the literature on dynamics of hybrid regimes, i.e., whether these regimes stay stable, or instead, turn more democratic or more autocratic with time. Venezuela since the mid-2000s is an example of the latter. I first focus on how this happened in Venezuela. I posit that the turn toward greater authoritarianism occurred through autocratic legalism. This refers to the use, abuse, and disuse of the law to disempower veto players. I then focus on the “why” question. The main cause of Venezuela’s regime dynamics is a combination of external factors (increasing tolerance from abroad) and the ruling party’s declining electoral competitiveness at home and institutional path dependence.