The Unraveling of Representative Democracy in Venezuela.
Edited by Jennifer L. McCoy and David J. Myers. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins
University Press, 2004. 368p. $49.95.
The replacement of a “stable” democracy with an elected
self-proclaimed “revolutionary” government—especially in
a major petroleum-exporting country—demands the attention of
comparative politics. Thus, this volume is a welcome addition to the
rather thin body of scholarship on Venezuela. Comprised of essays by
several leading students of Venezuelan politics, it locates the
preconditions for Hugo Chavez's rise in the vulnerabilities of the
previous regime. Some chapters, including the conclusion, also attempt to
explain the nature of the new government under Chavez. However, given the
origins of the book in conference papers from 2000, the latter task is
quite underdeveloped. A fuller analysis of the nature and structure of the
Chavez government, now into the final year of its first full
constitutional term, would have made the book all the more valuable.
Nonetheless, its question about democracy's “unraveling”
is of great importance.