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.