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Prospects for Democratic Governability in Venezuela*

  • Michael Coppedge (a1)


Venezuela, once the most governable democracy in Latin America, is now a very fragile democracy. This article describes the formula that made Venezuela governable in the 1970s, traces its development in the 1960s, and explains why it broke down in the 1980s, leaving the democratic regime in danger in the 1990s. This historical perspective is necessary for anyone seeking to understand the prospects for democratic govemability in the Caldera government, for this administration will be expected to provide an alternative to the old formula. At the same time, it will be judged by comparison with the achievements of the old formula. If Caldera's democratic alternative is judged a failure, many Venezuelans will be inclined to give the nondemocractic alternative a second look. The historical perspective is also useful in deriving lessons that can be applied to other Latin American democracies. First, because Venezuela's formula worked well for a while, it helps to identify the elements of democratic govemability.



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This article is based upon a paper prepared for the Inter-American Dialogue Project on “Democratic Governance in the Americas.”



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Latin American Politics and Society
  • ISSN: 0022-1937
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