Democracy in Latin America: Colombia and Venezuela

By Donald L. Herman | Go to book overview

deniably a malaise that grips contemporary Venezuelan society and politics - one that appears endemic to the party system. It is a telling if unsurprising fact that in successive 1985 polls Venezuelans are saying that their first electoral preference is "undecided," followed by Acción Democrática with COPEI and the parties of the left far in arrears. Past experience suggests that party elites will not be deaf to such signs. The years since 1958 have permitted a deepening of democratic roots in Venezuela. The impulse toward elite accommodation has been accompanied by a stubbornly flourishing practice of participation and of organizational populism. If party structures mirror democratic centralism, their leadership is far from insensitive to grass-roots sentiments. It is these well established qualities that give some hope that the malaise of the mid-1980s will not endure and that prophecies of pessimism and decay will not prove selffulfilling.


NOTES
1
A detailed analysis of the Pérez campaign is included in John D. Martz and Enrique A. Baloyra , Electoral Mobilization and Public Opinion: The Venezuelan Campaign of 1973 ( Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1976), especially in Chapters 5 and 6.
2
Treatments of the 1978 campaign are found in Howard R. Penniman, ed., Venezuela at the Polls: The National Elections of 1978 ( Washington, D.C.: American Enterprise Institute, 1980). Especially see John D. Martz, "The Evolution of Democratic Politics in Venezuela", pp. 1-30; David J. Myers, "The Acción Democrática Campaign", pp. 91-133; and Donald L. Herman, "The Christian Democratic Party", pp. 133-54.
3
Carlos Rangel, "How Venezuelans Squandered their Oil Wealth", Miami Herald, March 20, 1983.
4
Lusinchi's inaugural address appeared in the Caracas press on January 31, 1984. Also see John D. Martz, "The Crisis of Venezuelan Democracy", Current History ( February 1984):73-77 and 89.
5
The phrase was widely used by the muckraking journalist Jorge Olavarría in his weekly Resumen. For example, see his "La partidocracia venezolana" in Resumen, July 5, 1981.
6
Characteristic views are presented by John D. Martz, "Los peligros de la petrificación", and by Andrés Stambouli, "La democracia venezolana", in Iberoamérica en los Años Ochenta, eds. Enrique Baloyra and Rafael López-Pintor ( Madrid: Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas, 1983). Also see Baloyra reporting of Venezuelan attitudes in his "Public Opinion and Support for the Regime, 1973-1983", in Venezuela: The Democratic Experience, second edition, eds. John D. Martz and David J. Myers ( New York: Praeger, 1986).
7
John W. Sloan, Public Policy in Latin America: A Comparative Survey ( Pittsburgh, Penn.: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1984), p. 4.
8
Several representative statements appear in Howard J. Wiarda, Corporatism and National Development in Latin America ( Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1981).

-171-

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