Venezuela: Crowding Out the Opposition

Issue Date April 2007
Volume 18
Issue 2
Page Numbers 99-113
file Print
arrow-down-thin Download from Project MUSE
external View Citation

The acceleration of authoritarianism in Venezuela since 2004, together with Hugo Chávez’s reelection in 2006, cannot be explained easily with functional theories. Instead, we focus on political opportunities: specifically, economic resources at the state’s disposal together with weakened institutions of representation helped crowd out the opposition. We show how clientelism and electoral authoritarianism feed each other. Together with deliberate strategies of polarization, impunity, and job discrimination, lavish spending has allowed the state to mobilize majorities and emerge undefeatable at the polls. This invincibility is, paradoxically, the reason that the Venezuelan state has become an unreliable force for promoting democracy.

About the Authors

Javier Corrales

Javier Corrales is Dwight W. Morrow 1895 Professor of Political Science at Amherst College. His books include Fixing Democracy: Why Constitutional Change Often Fails to Enhance Democracy in Latin America (2018) and (with Michael Penfold) Dragon in the Tropics: Venezuela and the Legacy of Hugo Chávez (second edition, 2015).

View all work by Javier Corrales

Michael Penfold

Michael Penfold is professor of public policy at the Instituto de Estudios Superiores en Administración (IESA) in Caracas, and specializes in public policy, political economy, and international business in Latin America.

View all work by Michael Penfold