Latin America’s New Turbulence: Can Democracy Win in Venezuela?

Issue Date April 2016
Volume 27
Issue 2
Page Numbers 20-34
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In December 2015, against the background of a competitive authoritarian socialist regime in severe economic and civic crisis, Venezuela’s opposition coalition, the Democratic Unity Roundtable, won a resounding triumph in national legislative elections, giving it the two-thirds supermajority needed to exercise a number of key powers.
This sweeping result has presented the country’s “Bolivarian socialist” regime—founded by the late President Hugo Chávez and now headed by his chosen successor Nicolás Maduro—with a painful choice: whether to accept a real division of power or to try to maintain its grip at all costs. This decision comes at a time of staggering economic failure that is fueling a humanitarian crisis. Hyperinflation, skyrocketing crime rates, and severe shortages of essential goods are overwhelming ordinary Venezuelans.