Politics of Venezuela
Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Transcripts - Politics of Venezuela
Benedict (Viktor) Gombocz
Venezuela has a multi-party structure.
The current ruling party, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (Partido Socialista Unido de
Venezuela, PSUV) was founded in 2007 as a merger of several small parties that favored the Bolivarian
Revolution under then President Hugo Chávez (President from 1999-2013) with his Fifth Republic
Since 1998, PSUV and its predecessors have occupied both the Presidency and the National Assembly.
The Democratic Unity Roundtable (Mesa de la Unidad Democrática, MUD), founded in 2008, leads a
large part of the opposition (A New Era, Project Venezuela, Justice First, Movement for Socialism, and
Hugo Chávez, the prominent figure of Venezuela’s political landscape upon his first election to the
Presidency in 1998 as a political outsider, died in office early in 2013; he was succeeded by Nicolás
Maduro (originally as acting President; he subsequently won the 2013 presidential election).
Government: Federal presidential
President: Nicolás Maduro
Vice President: Jorge Arreaza
President of the National Assembly:
Legislature: National Assembly
The National Assembly twice voted to give Chávez the power to govern by decree in a number
of largely defined areas, once in 2000 and again in 2007; this power was given to preceding
In 2008, the Venezuelan government banned the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch, which was
condemning the government’s Human Rights record.
There is a long story of conflict between church and state in Venezuela.
The Catholic Church accused the Chávez Administration of placing power in his own hands.
In a 2009 Easter address to the country, the bishops stated that democracy in Venezuela was in
“serious danger of collapse.”
When Caracas, Venezuela’s capital, elected an “opposition” mayor in 2009, the government
granted control of his budget to a nominated official.
Venezuela outlawed the death penalty in 1863; it is the country where capital punishment has
been banned the longest.
Venezuela elects the President of Venezuela, on the national level, as head of state and head of
government, and a unicameral federal legislature.
Venezuela’s president is elected to a six-year term through a process of direct election
plurality voting; since the 2009 Venezuelan constitutional referendum, he or she can run for
The National Assembly (Asamblea Nacional) consists of 165 members (diputados), who are
elected to five-year terms.
Elections also occur at both state and local level.
Most recent elections:
◦ Parliamentary: Venezuelan parliamentary election, 2010
◦ Regional: Venezuelan regional elections, 2012
◦ Presidential: Venezuelan presidential election, 2013
United Socialist Party of Venezuela (Partido Socialista
Unido de Venezuela, PSUV)
Democratic Action (Acción Democrática, AD)
A New Era (Un Nuevo Tiempo, UNT)
Independent Electoral Political Organization Committee
(Comité de Organización Política Electoral
Justice First (Primero Justicia, PJ)
For Social Democracy (Por la Democracia
Project Venezuela (Proyecto Venezuela, PV)
Communist Party of Venezuela (Partido Comunista de
The Radical Cause (La Causa Radical, LCR)
Popular Will (Voluntad Popular, VP)
Fatherland for All (Patria Para Todos, PPT)
Movement for Socialism (Movimiento al
Fearless People’s Alliance (Alianza Bravo Pueblo, ABP)
National Convergence (Convergencia Nacional, CN)
Born 23 November 1962.
Current President of Venezuela; was the Vice President
of Venezuela and the Minister of Foreign Affairs under
President Hugo Chávez.
Former bus driver; went on to become a trade union
leader, prior to his election to the National Assembly in
Was nominated to numerous posts in the Venezuelan
Government under Chávez; was appointed Foreign
Minister in 2006, during which he was named the “most
capable administrator and politician of Chávez’s inner
Took over the powers and duties of the President after
Chávez died on 5 March 2013; the same year, an early
presidential election was called on 14 April to elect
Chávez’s successor; he won with a tight margin as the
United Socialist Party’s nominee, and he formally
assumed office on 19 April.
Born 1973 in Monserrat.
Current VP of Venezuela, having been nominated in 2013;
holds the office formally since 19 April 2013 (was acting VP
from 9 March-19 April 2013).
Has occupied numerous top positions in the administration of
President Hugo Chávez and his successor, Nicolás Maduro.
Has occupied the post of Minister of Science and Technology
Became Chávez’s son-in-law in 2007 upon his marriage to
the late president’s oldest daughter, Rosa Virginia; acted as
the unofficial spokesman of the Chávez family during the last
stages of Chávez’s cancer.
Holds a degree in International Studies from Universidad
Central de Venezuela (UCV), and obtained a scholarship by the
Gran Mariscal de Ayacucho Foundation in the 1990s, allowing
him to receive a master’s degree in European Policy Studies at
the University of Cambridge in England.
Apart from working as a broadcaster and interviewer on some
public television venues in Venezuela, he worked as a reporter
and university instructor; he was also the host of the
television show Diálogo abierto (“Open dialouge”).
Born 15 April 1963 in El Furrial, Monagas State.
Current President of the National Assembly since 5
January 2012, having been elected the same year.
Formerly a member of the armed forces; participated in
Chávez’s return to power after the failed 2002 coup
Was a leading member of Chávez’s Fifth Republic
Movement (Movimiento V Repúblik, MVR); is still a
leading member of the United Socialist Party of
Venezuela, into which, in 2007, MVR merged.
Served as Governor of Miranda from 2004-2008; lost
the 2008 election to Henrique Capriles Radonski; was
later nominated Public Works & Housing Minister.
Was also nominated head of the National Commission
of Telecom, a post habitually independent of Ministry of
Public Works and Housing, in November 2009.
Was elected an MP by his home state, Monagas, in
2010; was named V-P of the governing PSUV by
President Chávez the following year.
Founded 24 March 2007.
Socialist political party in Venezuela; founded
as a result of the union of some of the political
and social forces that were in favor of the
Bolivarian Revolution under the leadership of
the deceased president Hugo Chávez.
Largest left-wing party in the Western
Hemisphere, with almost 5.7 million members
as of 2007.
Held primary elections on 2 May 2010 for
candidates to the National Assembly election
in September; 2,568,090 members voted.
Catch-all electoral coalition of Venezuelan
centrist, left of centre, left-wing and some right of
center political parties founded in January 2008 to
unite the opposition to President Hugo Chávez’s
United Socialist Party of Venezuela in the 2010
Venezuelan parliamentary election.
A preceding opposition umbrella group, the
Coordinadora Democrática, dissolved after the
failure of the 2004 Venezuelan recall referendum.
Won almost 47% of the vote nationally in the
September 2010 election for the National
Assembly of Venezuela, though it only picked up
64 seats (out of 165) because of changes in
population-vote distribution introduced by the
current national assembly that had a government
party supermajority; the governing United Socialist
Party of Venezuela, in the same elections, acquired
48% of the vote and 98 seats, whereas the
Fatherland for All (Patria Para Todos, PPT) won only