Venezuela Government and Politics
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 AllCityCodes.com, 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 representatives.
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 opposition-controlled parliament.
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 introduced dictatorship.
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 not legitimate.
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 be redone.
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 China.
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 country.
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
|1929-31||Juan Bautista Pérez|
|1941-45||Isaías Medina Angarita|
|1952-58||Marcos Pérez Jiménez|
|1974-79||Carlos Andrés Pérez|
|1979-84||Luis Herrera Campins|
|1989-93||Carlos Andrés Pérez|