“Dictatorship” and “regime” have become a familiar part of the western lexicon when describing the Venezuelan government. At a press conference ahead of the Special Summit of the Americas in Mexico in January 2009, Condoleezza Rica declared that “The best thing President Chavez could do at this point is to demonstrate that he believes in a democratic future for Venezuela by carrying out the wishes of his people in this regard”. She told the crowds that there was “an assault on democracy” in Venezuela.
Of course, democracy itself is a contested term. There are a number of different understandings about what constitutes a democracy, Andreas Schedler even argues that there are at least 550 different types of it. However, its essential characteristics are widely accepted and commonly held. How many of these characteristics does Venezuela embody? Let us examine each one.
Free and Fair Elections
Eleven internationally observed national elections…
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