State and politics
In December 1999, 70 percent of Venezuela's constituency
approved a new constitution replacing the old one from 1961. Also see AbbreviationFinder for abbreviation of VZ and its meanings of Venezuela.
According to the constitution, the country is a federal
republic consisting of 23 states and a federal district. The
executive is exercised by the president, who is
given very great powers of power. The President is elected
for a term of six years with, after an addition to the
Constitution in 2009, the possibility of several consecutive
re-elections. The legislative power is exercised by
Congress, which consists of a chamber. The members are
elected provincial by proportion to the population of the
states. In addition, Indian minorities are entitled to three
The constitution established two new centers of power;
partly a so-called Republican Moral Council (Consejo
Moral Republicano), which includes the head of the
country's National Audit Office, the Prosecutor General and
the Ombudsman and whose function is to ensure compliance
with the constitution, and a new election authority (Consejo
Nacional Electoral). The purpose of these was to
increase the popular control of the state and the
politicians, but during Hugo Chávez's time in power, these
and other authorities in the state apparatus were filled
with loyal supporters of the president, which weakened the
control system and the balance of power.
In the early 1990s, Hugo Chávez introduced the concept of
"21st Century Socialism" based on a state with large direct
ownership of production, a state-bearing party and a strong
presidential power. However, there is still room for the
political opposition to act in general elections and several
states and municipalities are governed by parties other than
what Chávez created.
In foreign policy, Chávez's time in power meant a
reorientation of the country's relations with the outside
world. Venezuela's traditional bond with the United States
was replaced by a wild anti-imperialist rhetoric and by
friendly relations with Cuba and the Castro brothers.
Hugo Chávez wanted to see deeper integration between the
countries of Latin America as a counterbalance to US
historical dominance and took several initiatives to
strengthen regional coordination. Venezuela formed the trade
block ALBA-TCP, which includes politically allied
countries such as Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Cuba,
created the regional oil company PetroSur and the
TV channel Telesur. In December 2011, Venezuela
hosted the formation of the new regional cooperation
organization, CELAC (Comunidad de Estados de
America Latina y el Caribe), which includes all countries in
Latin America and the Caribbean but not the US and Canada.
After Chávez's death in 2013, Vice President Maduro
temporarily led the country until the re-election held on
April 14. He was then elected, in line with the deceased
Chávez's wish, as new president. Chávez was most present
even during the 2013 election campaign, when Maduro went to
election as Chávez's heir. The victory margin was still low,
and counterpart candidate Henrique Capriles received 49.1
percent of the vote.
In December 2015 elections to Parliament were held. The
opposition alliance won a grand victory and received 112 out
of 167 seats, thus gaining a majority in parliament that
made it possible to challenge the president's power in
various ways. After the election, Venezuela faced a new
situation where the presidential power and the National
Assembly were controlled by political forces that have a
very hard time cooperating.
Since then, the ruling party PSUV has in principle
controlled all state functions, which are made up of the
Supreme Court, the Prosecutor's Office, the Electoral
Authority and the Ombudsman's office for human rights. PSUV
has used these institutions to block decisions in the
The blockade meant, among other things, that the local
elections that would be held at the end of 2016 were moved
forward one year. The opposition's demand for a referendum
on President Maduro's departure was also halted by the
electoral authority, which caused the opposition to accuse
the president and the ruling party of having in effect
When the Supreme Court at the end of March 2017,
Parliament suspended escalations of protests between
protesting citizens and Madurotologists. About 20 people
were killed. The court's decision was withdrawn and instead
President Maduro announced that he wanted to rewrite the
country's constitution. The opposition announced that they
would boycott the entire process when they considered it to
be government-controlled, a game for the backdrop and thus
The opposition organized its own referendum, which
resulted in about 7 million voting against the government's
proposal, a result Maduro ignored. At the end of July, the
government arranged elections for the new assembly instead.
During Election Day, ten people were killed. At the
beginning of August 2017, the Constituent Assembly began the
work of writing a new constitution which, according to the
regime, was voted through.
The assembly consists of 545 members loyal to the
government and Maduro. Their initial decision meant that the
Assembly, through decrees, took power from all other
existing elected bodies, including Parliament. The
opposition called the decision a confirmation that democracy
was definitely out of play and replaced by a dictatorship
led by Maduro and the ruling party PSUV.
Protests around the world grew and the United States
imposed sanctions on several leading people in government
circles. Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay decided to
suspend Venezuela from the Mercosur trade union because of
the country's lack of democracy.
Despite widespread protests from the country's political
opposition and the outside world, the ruling PSUV party
decided to advance the presidential election that would have
taken place in December 2018 to May 20 of the same year. The
election was boycotted by most opposition parties, which
questioned the legitimacy of the election.
A smaller number of opposition parties voted in the
election and they received a total of 11 percent of the
vote. The main opposition candidate, former PSUV member
Henri Falcon (born 1961), received 21 percent of the vote in
the presidential election.
The incumbent President Maduro was declared victorious
with 68 percent of the vote. According to the country's
electoral authority, 46 percent of the country's voters
participated in the election, a task that was rejected by
the opposition and independent observers, who said the
figure was greatly exaggerated. The opposition refused to
approve the election result and demanded that the election
Arguing that Madudor was not the legitimate president of
the country, Parliament's President, Juan Guaidó (born
1983), in January 2019, declared himself President during a
transitional period. Guidó has been recognized by most
countries in South America as well as another 40 states,
including Sweden and the United States; of the great powers,
Maduro has continued support of the Russian Federation and
Also read Venezuela (History).
The legal system in Venezuela is codified, including in a
civil law, a civil law, a criminal law, a criminal law and a
commercial law. The judicial system consists of small court,
general court, commercial court, an appeal court and the
Supreme Court. There are also special labor courts and a
federal court for cases involving certain high government
officials. The death penalty was abolished in 1863.
Venezuela, like many other Latin American countries, has
a high proportion of poor people and the state is burdened
with large foreign debts. Widespread crime, high levels of
violence and severe corruption have made their mark in the
Hugo Chávez's authoritarian rule led to increased
concentration of power and reduced political freedom.
However, the social programs he initiated resulted in some
social equalization, for example, access to health care for
the poorest part of the population improved, which gave him
legitimacy and created relative stability in the country.
After Chávez's departure, the social unrest in Venezuela has
increased again. Protesters have protested against
everything from rampant inflation, commodity shortages and
corruption to the lack of civil and human rights for the
country's indigenous people. The demonstrations have on
several occasions resulted in deaths and criticism has been
directed at the country's police forces and security forces
accused of assault and arbitrary detention.
Venezuela's prisons are among the most violent in Latin
America. Overcrowding, poorly trained prison staff and
corruption have allowed armed gangs to take control of
prisons. Hundreds of deaths occur each year.
Venezuela is at the bottom of the list in Reporters
Without Borders Press Freedom Index (2015), and lost 21
positions compared to 2014. The reason for the decline is
the journalists' deteriorating conditions, they are
increasingly exposed to threats and violence.
Government-critical articles appear to a large extent in
several media, but fears of state reprisals have made
self-censorship common. Objective information is still
difficult to access as the private media is owned by the
opposition, while the state news agency often acts as a
propaganda channel for the incumbent government.
Forced labor occurs and affects most of the country's
women and children. Sexual exploitation and violence against
women is a widespread problem.
Heads of State
||Juan Bautista Pérez
||Isaías Medina Angarita
||Marcos Pérez Jiménez
||Carlos Andrés Pérez
||Luis Herrera Campins
||Carlos Andrés Pérez