Hugo Chávez’s “Petro-Socialism”

Issue Date April 2009
Volume 20
Issue 2
Page Numbers 78-92
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Venezuela’s 2008 regional and local elections suggest that Hugo Chávez faces serious difficulties in developing his hypothetical socialist project within a constitutional framework, given the existence of a wide democratic culture and significant opposition. These elections constitute a possible turning point in the transformation of a low-quality electoral democracy into a competitive authoritarian regime, as evidenced by irregularities, attempts to reverse political decentralization in order to limit the power of the opposition, and violation of the Constitution to permit voters to pass an amendment allowing the indefinite reelection of the president. The recent 2009 constitutional referendum, won by the chavistas, points to this trend.