The Referendum in Venezuela: One Act in an Unfinished Drama

Issue Date January 2005
Volume 16
Issue 1
Page Numbers 109-123
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Venezuelans voted on August 15, 2004 to keep President Hugo Chávez in office. Coming two years after the short-lived coup, the recall took place in an extremely divided society. Although endorsed by international observers, the opposition charged fraud. The government swept subsequent elections for governor and mayors. The government now controls all of the major institutions in the country, while facing a weakened opposition. It can therefore govern without the distraction (or excuse) of continued challenges, but also must avoid the temptation to abuse its dominant position . The opposition has the opportunity to move to a longer-term effort to mobilize and organize its supporters and its message.