Politics of Venezuela

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The politics of Venezuela occurs in a framework explained in Government of Venezuela.

Venezuela had a dominant-party system, dominated by the United Socialist Party of Venezuela amidst other parties listed in the following section. The governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela (Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela, PSUV) was created in 2007, uniting a number of smaller parties supporting Hugo Chávez's Bolivarian Revolution with Chávez's Fifth Republic Movement. PSUV and its forerunners have held the Presidency and National Assembly since 1998. The Democratic Unity Roundtable (Mesa de la Unidad Democrática, MUD), created in 2008, unites much of the opposition (A New Era (UNT), Project Venezuela, Justice First, Movement for Socialism (Venezuela) and others). Hugo Chávez, the central figure of the Venezuelan political landscape since his election to the Presidency in 1998 as a political outsider, died in office in early 2013, and was succeeded by Nicolás Maduro (initially as interim President, before narrowly winning the 2013 Venezuelan presidential election). Venezuela has a presidential government. The Economist Intelligence Unit rated Venezuela an "authoritarian regime" in 2022.[1]

Parties and leaders[edit]

National Assembly building.

Governing party[edit]

United Socialist Party of Venezuela or PSUV – (Nicolás Maduro), partially recognized. Up to 60 countries, including United States and the European Union have recognized Juan Guaidó (MUD) as the President of Venezuela. As of 2021, the European Union no longer recognizes Juan Guaidó as interim president of Venezuela.[2]

Non-governing parties[edit]

  • A New Time or UNT – (Manuel Rosales)
  • Brave People's Alliance or ABP – (Richard Blanco)
  • Christian Democrats or COPEI – Juan Carlos Alvarado
  • Coalition of opposition parties –The Democratic Unity Table or MUD – (Jose Luis Cartaya)
  • Communist Party of Venezuela or PCV – (Oscar Figuera)
  • Democratic Action or AD – (Henry Ramos Allup)
  • Fatherland for All or PPT – (Rafael Uzcategui)
  • For Social Democracy or PODEMOS – (Didalco Antonio Bolivar Groterol)
  • Justice First or PJ – (Julio Borges)
  • Movement Toward Socialism or MAS – (Segundo Melendaz)
  • Popular Will or VP – (Leopoldo Lopez)
  • Progressive Wave or AP – (Henri Falcon)
  • The Radical Cause or La Causa R – (Americo De Grazia)
  • Venezuelan Progressive Movement or MPV – (Simon Calzadilla)
  • Venezuela Project or PV – (Henrique Fernando Salas Feo)[3]


Venezuelan politics was characterized by military rule for much of its post-independence history.[4] From independence until 1956, Venezuela had 24 constitutions.[4] These constitutions were frequently established by winners after successful revolts.[4]

Romulo Gallegos's election as president in 1947 made him the first freely elected president in Venezuela's history.[4] He was removed from power by military officers in the 1948 Venezuelan coup.[4]


Miraflores Palace, seat of the executive power.

Background to the current political landscapes is the development of democracy in Venezuela during the twentieth century, in which Democratic Action (ADx or Acción Democrática in Spanish, founded in 1941) and its predecessors played an important role in the early years. Democratic Action led the government during Venezuela's first democratic period (1945–1948). After an intervening decade of dictatorship (1948–1958) and the fall of dictator Marcos Pérez Jiménez[5] saw ADx excluded from power, four Venezuelan presidents came from Democratic Action from the 1960s to the 1990s. This period, known as the "Fourth Republic", is marked by the development of the 1958 Punto Fijo Pact between the major parties (originally including the Democratic Republican Union, which later dwindled in significance).[citation needed]

By the end of the 1990s, however, the now two-party system's credibility was almost nonexistent.[5] This was mostly because of the corruption and poverty that Venezuelans experienced as oil wealth poured in during the 1970s and the debt crisis developed during the 1980s. Democratic Action's last president (Carlos Andrés Pérez) was impeached for corruption in 1993 and spent several years in prison as a result. The other main traditional party Copei, provided two Venezuelan presidents (Rafael Caldera, 1969–1974, and Luis Herrera Campins, 1979–1983). Confidence in the traditional parties collapsed enough that Rafael Caldera won the 1993 presidential election with about 30% of the vote, representing a new electoral coalition National Convergence. By 1998, support for Democratic Action and COPEI had fallen still further, and Hugo Chávez, a political outsider, won the 1998 election.[citation needed]


Chávez launched what he called the "Bolivarian Revolution" and fulfilled an election promise by calling a Constituent Assembly in 1999, which drafted the new Constitution of Venezuela. Chávez was granted executive power by the National Assembly to rule by decree multiple times throughout his tenure,[6][7][8] passing hundreds of laws. Chávez ruled Venezuela by decree in 2000,[9] 2001,[9] 2004,[10] 2005,[10] 2006,[10] 2007,[11] 2008,[9][11] 2010,[9][12] 2011[9][12] and 2012.[9][12] The United Socialist Party of Venezuela (Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela, PSUV) was created in 2007, uniting a number of smaller parties supporting Hugo Chávez's Bolivarian Revolution with Chávez's Fifth Republic Movement. The Democratic Unity Roundtable (Mesa de la Unidad Democrática, MUD), created in 2008, united much of the opposition (A New Era (UNT), Project Venezuela, Justice First, Movement for Socialism (Venezuela) and others). In 2008, the government expelled the US-based Human Rights Watch,[13] which was criticizing the government's Human rights record. Hugo Chávez, the central figure of the Venezuelan political landscape since his election to the presidency in 1998 as a political outsider, died in office in early 2013 after a long struggle with cancer. Nearing his death, Chávez expressed his intention that his vice president would succeed him.[14] Chavez was succeeded by Nicolás Maduro, his vice president, initially as interim President, before he narrowly won the 2013 Venezuelan presidential election.[citation needed]


Nicolás Maduro has been president of Venezuela from 2013 to the present. His rule has been marked by a continuation of Bolivarian socialist populist policies (at least until 2020), but also by a severe economic crisis -- hyperinflation (53,798,500% between 2016 and April 2019),[15] escalating hunger,[16] disease, crime and mortality rates,[17] and mass emigration (almost 5 million from the country as of 2019).[18] Extrajudicial killings of opposition by government forces are reported (by the United Nations) to include 6800 deaths as of 2019.[19]

The crisis has been variously blamed on low oil prices in early 2015;[20] on an "economic war" on Venezuelan socialism[21] waged by international sanctions, and the country's business elite;[22] and on "years of economic mismanagement, and corruption",[22] including a lack of maintenance and investment in oil production.[17]


On 14 April 2013 elections were held between Nicolás Maduro and Henrique Capriles Radonski, opposition leader and co founder of the political party, Primero Justicia. The Venezuelan election agency announced that Maduro won with 50.8 percent of the vote, the smallest presidential win margin since the 1968 election.[23] Opposition forces said that Henrique Capriles Radonski actually won by close to 300,000 votes and proposed evidence of voter fraud.[23] Capriles demanded a recount that in June reaffirmed Maduro as the victor. These results sparked subsequent demonstrations and protests by those who said the recount process was also illegitimate.[24] Maduro and his government responded with suppression of the opposition that resulted in hundreds of arrests, that Maduro claimed to be in defense of a coup he was facing.[25]

Maduro attempted to continue the Chavismo policies. Like Chávez, Nicolás Maduro has ruled by decree multiple times since he was elected in April 2013. President Maduro has ruled Venezuela by decree for the majority of the period from 19 November 2013[26] through 2017.[27][28][29][30][31] Maduro has not achieved the same level of popularity that Chávez had during his presidency, demonstrated by the narrow early presidential election win. Many attribute Maduro's failure to continue the same populism model successfully to his lack of charisma that Chávez capitalized on. Chávez's opposition reported to still have large love and respect for Chávez during his presidency, Eric Olsen, deputy director of the Latin American Program at the Wilson Center reports.[32] Olsen notes that this was not the same case with Maduro, who clearly lacks the same amount of captivating characteristics.[32]


2015 was a strong year for the MUD opposition, taking two-thirds of the congressional sets, a super majority. This was the first time in 16 years that PSUV did not have the majority in congress and this was not due to low voter turnout, as it was at 74.3%.[33] Henrique Capriles a former MUD presidential candidate and the opposition coalition leader, Jesus Torrealba marked this as a change in the nation's history encouraging celebration with Torrealba stating, "Venezuela wanted a change and that change came. A new majority expressed itself and sent a clear and resounding message."[33] Maduro stated in his televised response, "We have come with our morality and our ethics to recognize these adverse results, to accept them and to tell our Venezuela, The Constitution and democracy have triumphed", and later said "In Venezuela the opposition has not won ... For now, a counterrevolution that is at our doorstep has won".[34]


The strong performance by the opposition led to the reduction of the legislative powers due to the judiciary's increased scope and politicization. The Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ), controlled by the PSUV, invalidated three deputies' elections from the opposition. When this ruling was not accepted by the Assembly, its powers were stripped.[35] By 2017, the old legislative body was dismissed and transformed into the New Constituent National Assembly.[36] This was similar to the Constituent Assembly in 1999, having power to change the constitution and dismantle pre-existing officials and/or the bodies themselves.[37] The members of the Constituent Assembly were chosen in July 2017, during elections that were largely boycotted by the opposition, with accusations of illegitimacy.[36]


In 2020, news reports described a loosening of many socialist/redistributive economic policies—price and currency controls, stringent labor laws—by the Maduro government, along with an rapprochement with members of the capitalist community—especially Lorenzo Mendoza of the Empresas Polar conglomerate who is no longer denounced as a "thief," a "parasite" and a "traitor". Changes such as the return of agricultural land and "dozens of companies" to private management have allowed the government to survive economic sanctions (though economic production and employment is still greatly reduced), and have proceeded in exchange for an abandonment of political opposition by Mendoza.[38] Another result of the economic liberalization is that erstwhile socialist allies of Maduro's government who began to protest corruption and the "extravagant lives flaunted by the government's cronies in supermarkets stocked with expensive imports and luxury car showrooms", have become victims to the same security apparatus that have attacked Maduro's opponents on the right—they have been denounced as traitors, arrested (leaders of the Communist and Tupamaro parties), beaten and sometimes assassinated (the fate of radio host José Carmelo Bislick).[39]


Venezuela abolished the death penalty in 1863, making it the country where this practice has been outlawed the longest.[40][41]

There is a history of tension between church and state in the country. The Catholic Church has accused Chavez of concentrating power in his own hands. In 2009, in the Catholic Church's Easter address to the nation, the bishops said the country's democracy was in "serious danger of collapse."[42]


Venezuela elects at a national level the President of Venezuela as head of state and head of government and a unicameral federal legislature. The President of Venezuela is elected for a six-year term by direct election plurality voting and is eligible for re-election since the 2009 Venezuelan constitutional referendum) The National Assembly (Asamblea Nacional) has 165 members (diputados), elected for five-year terms. Elections also take place at state level and local level.

On 25 April 2023, representatives from 19 nations, including the European Union, attended a conference that was intended to rekindle negotiations between Nicolás Maduro's government in Venezuela and the opposition political parties, but it had no noticeable impact.[1]

Latest elections[edit]

Most recent elections:[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Democracy Index 2022: Frontline democracy and the battle for Ukraine" (PDF). Economist Intelligence Unit. 2023. Retrieved 9 February 2023.
  2. ^ "EU states no longer recognise Guaido as Venezuela's interim president". Reuters. 25 January 2021.
  3. ^ "The World Factbook – Central Intelligence Agency". www.cia.gov. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e Lott, Leo B. (1956). "Executive Power in Venezuela". American Political Science Review. 50 (2): 422–441. doi:10.2307/1951677. ISSN 0003-0554. JSTOR 1951677. S2CID 143931136.
  5. ^ a b Villa, Rafael Duarte (1 December 2005). "Venezuela: political changes in the Chávez era". Estudos Avançados. 19 (55): 153–172. doi:10.1590/S0103-40142005000300011.
  6. ^ "Historia de Venezuela en Imágenes. Capítulo VIII 1973 /1983. La Gran Venezuela". La experiencia democrática 1958 / 1998 (in Spanish). Fundación Polar. Archived from the original on 6 February 2007. Retrieved 21 January 2007.
  7. ^ "El tema: Historia democrática venezolana" (in Spanish). Globovisión. 28 November 2006. Archived from the original on 7 February 2007. Retrieved 21 January 2007.
  8. ^ "Ramón José Velásquez Mújica" (in Spanish). Centro de Investigación de Relaciones Internacionales y desarrollo. 21 September 2006. Retrieved 21 January 2007.
  9. ^ a b c d e f "Venezuela grants Chavez power to rule by decree". Daily Nation. 18 December 2010. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  10. ^ a b c Carroll, Rory (5 December 2008). "A family affair". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  11. ^ a b "Rule by decree passed for Chavez". BBC News. 19 January 2007. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  12. ^ a b c "Hugo Chavez Fast Facts". CNN. 16 July 2013. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  13. ^ Reuters News retrieved 22 September 2009
  14. ^ "Venezuela sets post-Chavez poll date". BBC News. 10 March 2013. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  15. ^ "BCV admits hyperinflation of 53,798,500% since 2016". Venezuela Al Dia (in Spanish). 28 May 2019. Archived from the original on 29 May 2019. Retrieved 5 June 2019.
  16. ^ "One in three Venezuelans not getting enough to eat, UN finds". The Guardian. 24 February 2020. Retrieved 10 March 2020.
  17. ^ a b Larmer, Brook (1 November 2018). "What 52,000 Percent Inflation Can Do to a Country". The New York Times. New York Times. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  18. ^ "Venezuelan Migration: The 4,500-Kilometer Gap Between Desperation and Opportunity". World Bank.org. 26 November 2019. Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  19. ^ "Venezuela Forces Killed Thousands, Then Covered It Up, U.N. Says." New York Times. 5 July 2019.
  20. ^ Mariana Zuñiga and Anthony Faiola. "Even sex is in crisis in Venezuela, where contraceptives are growing scarce".
    * Uri Friedman (4 June 2017). "How Populism Helped Wreck Venezuela". The Atlantic.
  21. ^ "Venezuela 2016 inflation hits 800 percent, GDP shrinks 19 percent: document". Reuters. 20 January 2017. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  22. ^ a b Melimopoulos, Elizabeth (21 January 2019). "Venezuela in crisis: How did the country get here?". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 23 March 2019.
  23. ^ a b Ellsworth, Brian. "Venezuela opposition demands vote recount, protests flare". U.S. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  24. ^ Carriquiry, Alicia L. (November 2011). "Election Forensics and the 2004 Venezuelan Presidential Recall Referendum as a Case Study". Statistical Science. 26 (4): 471–478. arXiv:1205.3009. doi:10.1214/11-STS379. ISSN 0883-4237. S2CID 9646736.
  25. ^ Margarita., López Maya (21 December 2016). El ocaso del chavismo : Venezuela 2005–2015. Editorial Alfa. ISBN 9788417014254. OCLC 973928217.
  26. ^ Diaz-Struck, Emilia; Forero, Juan (19 November 2013). "Venezuelan president Maduro given power to rule by decree". The Washington Post. Retrieved 27 April 2015.[verification needed]
  27. ^ "Venezuela: President Maduro granted power to govern by decree". BBC News. 16 March 2015. Retrieved 27 April 2015.[verification needed]
  28. ^ Brodzinsky, Sibylla (15 January 2016). "Venezuela president declares economic emergency as inflation hits 141%". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 24 February 2016.[verification needed]
  29. ^ Worely, Will (18 March 2016). "Venezuela is going to shut down for a whole week because of an energy crisis". The Independent. Retrieved 12 May 2016.[verification needed]
  30. ^ Kraul, Chris (17 May 2017). "Human rights activists say many Venezuelan protesters face abusive government treatment". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 22 May 2017.[verification needed]
  31. ^ "Gobierno extiende por décima vez el decreto de emergencia económica". La Patilla (in European Spanish). 18 July 2017. Retrieved 19 July 2017.[verification needed]
  32. ^ a b "Why is Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro so controversial?". USA TODAY. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  33. ^ a b "Venezuela opposition 'has key majority'". BBC News. 7 December 2015. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  34. ^ Neuman, William (7 December 2015). "Venezuelan Opposition Claims a Rare Victory: A Legislative Majority". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  35. ^ Latin American politics and development. Kline, Harvey F.,, Wade, Christine J. (Ninth ed.). New York, NY. 18 July 2017. ISBN 9780813350509. OCLC 962551647.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link) CS1 maint: others (link)
  36. ^ a b "Venezuela". freedomhouse.org. 5 January 2018. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  37. ^ "Analysis | Venezuela's controversial new Constituent Assembly, explained". Washington Post. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  38. ^ Kurmanaev, Anatoly (23 February 2020). "Venezuela's Socialists Embrace Business, Making Partner of a 'Parasite'". The New York Times. New York Times. Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  39. ^ Herrera, Isayen; Kurmanaev, Anatoly; Romero, Tibisay; Urdaneta, Sheyla (19 November 2020). "They Championed Benezuela's Revolution. They Are Now Its Latest Victims". The New York Times. New York Times. Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  40. ^ Amnesty International USA. Abolitionist and Retentionist Countries. Archived 2 February 2007 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 19 August 2006
  41. ^ The Death Penalty Worldwide. InfoPlease. Retrieved 19 August 2006.
  42. ^ The Tablet, "Bishop faces down threats from ruling party." 25 April 2009, p. 38

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