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As Clear as MUD: Characteristics, Objectives, and Strategies of the Opposition in Bolivarian Venezuela

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2018

Barry Cannon*
Maynooth University, Ireland


Since President Hugo Chávez was first elected in 1998, the Venezuelan opposition seems to have alternated between institutional and extra-institutional power strategies at different junctures. To help explain this pattern, this article constructs a novel theoretical framework from critical readings of both general theory and accounts of the Venezuelan opposition. It proposes that the strategies should be viewed as dialectical rather than discrete. On this basis, it finds that while the Venezuelan opposition has undergone important changes toward institutionalization in its composition, discursive emphasis, and strategic direction, close readings of opposition texts, interviews with opposition actors, and observations of street demonstrations all reveal continuity with previous rupturist and extra-institutional tendencies. Both strategies therefore must be considered to achieve a fuller, more comprehensive vision of the Venezuelan opposition; this conclusion has important theoretical implications for the study of opposition in the wider region.

Research Article
Copyright © University of Miami 2014

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