A history of Venezuelan democracy in 14 ballots


With a big hat tip to Guillermo Tell Aveledo and Alberto Mérida…

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The highlight for me?

Diego Arria’s card in the 1978 ballot…

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  1. I find these totally engrossing. Just a question that only GTAvex is likely to be able to solve…what on earth are ARPA and the Justicialista Movement doing on the 1973 ballot?! Did we use to have a Copa Libertadores-style system where the most successful parties from one country automatically qualify for another country’s ballot?!!?

  2. Pop Quiz: What do Hector Mujica, José Vicente Rangel, Edmundo Chirinos, Rafael Caldera, and Hugo Chávez have in common?

    Give up?

    They were all nominated to the presidency by the Communist Party of Venezuela.

    (man, worst dinner party EVER.)

          • I met Larrazabal in 1996… A nice man, in a modest house. He did not talk much about 1958, but he did talk about Venezuela and WWII.

            Why did I meet him? My dad had a thing for me to go and visit elder statesmen and pick their brains; I owe him so much.

          • I was a kid, then, but remember well those days (the end of P.J., the interim Junta presided by Larrazábal, and the subsequent elections). I stopped having periodic nightmares of the creole “Gestapo” coming to our home. There was such optimism in the air.

  3. I find it amusing that in the 1983 ballot Caldera is shown as a candidate for a party with a rainbow logo, for a second I thought he was launched as a candidate for a pro-LGBT movement until I realized that such party would be impossible in early 80’s Venezuela, no now matter how much strange bedfellows Venezuelan politics give us, as shown here.

  4. Actual conversation I’ll never forget from 1983 (ojo, I was 8 years old):

    Me: Dad, who’s that guy with the moustache in the orange poster?
    Dad: Teodoro, he’s a communist who wants to be president.
    Me: Is he adeco or copeyano?
    Dad: He’s neither, he’s from another party called MAS.
    Me: Wait, there are other parties beside AD and COPEI?!!?!

    • Reminds me a talk I had with my then 8 years old cousin during the 2008 Presidential Elections. He was convienced that in order of Obama or McCain to become president they had to either oust or kill George W. Bush or else his oldest child would become president again. It struck to me then that neither him nor my younger sister have lived without another president other than Chávez. He’s 12 now and although he now understands elections, he still has lived his entire life with Chávez as president.

  5. Awesome collection! Really brings home the evolution of democracy in Vzla.

    I always wondered about the indian in the Cruzada Civica Nacionalista. I thought they had gotten their own party but never could figure what they were about.

      • Irony: incongruity between what is expected to be and what actually is, or a situation or result showing such incongruity.

        Chávez in the first two lines and Capriles in the middle and in the bottom is an irony, por lo menos para este imberbe.

        • I know what irony means… But why is that ironic? Were you expecting Capriles on top?

          Alas, no candidate without a card on the top line of the ballot has ever won. But I am not sure if there’s causality or simple coincidence (Copei and MAS appeared on top often, and they rarely won anything).

  6. How many times have you heard the cliched phrase, “Venezuela is more democratic than ever because we’re often casting votes?”. This gallery is myth-busting:

    1) Between 1973 and 1998 parliamentary and presidential elections were synchronized —a smart way to save public money, IMHO.
    2) We’d go to vote an additional time to elect local authorities, i.e. councilors; governors and mayors were added to the mix after 1989.
    3) There were no national referendums since the people was never induced to either set up constituent assemblies or amend the constitution, let alone removal of presidents from office.
    4) Besides the 1993 Copei open primaries —which no one remembers taking place— no political alliance had had to resort to such measure in order to stand better chances.

    I’d daresay the lesser time between elections is a sign of the deep political crisis we’re going through.

  7. I don’t understand this mess at all. Venezuela has FPtP elections, right?

    Historically, that means only the “major” parties have any chance of winning office, and parties which never or rarely win office get very little support. There are a few which hang around at modest levels.

    Disputes within political sectors are fought out within parties.

    How do all these Venezuelan “parties” survive?

    I gather that a candidate may be nominated by multiple parties, and aggregate the votes received.

    In the US, this is allowed in New York state. There are Conservative and Liberal Parties which nominate candidates, and thus have a block of votes to swing. I.e. usually they nominate the Republican and Democrat candidates, but they can cross over, enforcing a certain level of ideological discipline. They also can nominate their own candidates, and occasionally win.

    At least, they used to; I don’t live there and haven’t heard much about them for years. At one time there were several state legislators from each of them, and the one with more seats got to have the “Third Aisle”.

    • My mother and I were deeply amused by seeing URD banners when Capriles went to Falcón. We continue to speculate why they exist. They were some yellow cloth with URD written with a marker, but they still were there.

    • The point is that the ballot-access rules are really, really lax…it’s cheap and painless to gather a few hundred signatures, sign some forms and get yourself on the ballot. Most of these parties could fit in the back of a VW bug.

    • There are more than 35 registered political parties in the U.S. If someone reckons Venezuelan minor parties as an anomaly then I suggest they go find something else to bitch about.


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