Perspectives on Politics

Review Essay

From Representative Democracy to Participatory Competitive Authoritarianism: Hugo Chávez and Venezuelan Politics

Scott Mainwaring

University of Notre Dame

The study of Latin American politics has always generated great new research questions, and within Latin America, no country's experience has generated more interesting questions than Venezuela since the election of Hugo Chávez in 1998. Contemporary Venezuela raises fascinating questions about the collapse of a highly institutionalized party system and the erosion or breakdown of what had been the third-oldest democracy outside of the advanced industrial democracies. What accounts for these stunning developments? What can we learn from them? These issues go to the core of important developments in Latin American politics, and they are major issues for comparative political scientists beyond Latin America.

Scott Mainwaring is the Eugene and Helen Conley Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame.


  The author is grateful to Michael Coppedge, Javier Corrales, Kirk Hawkins, Jeffrey C. Isaac, Krystin Krause, Jana Morgan, and Kurt Weyland for helpful comments. Krystin Krause provided research assistance.