STRUCTURAL DETERMINANTS OF OPPOSITION PARTY SUPPORT UNDER AN ELECTORAL CAUDILLO

Open Access
Author:
Dennison, Kristen M.
Area of Honors:
Political Science
Degree:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • David Joel Myers, Thesis Supervisor
  • Michael Barth Berkman, Honors Advisor
Keywords:
  • opposition parties
  • Venezuela
  • democratization
Abstract:
An electoral caudillo is a semi-democratic leader who manipulates electoral contests to maintain his hold on executive power. In Latin America, this type of strong central leadership has become increasingly popular as citizens seek alternatives to democratic systems which they view as corrupt and inefficient. However, authoritarian qualities of electoral caudillo rule can prevent democratic consolidation and national development. This paper examines the structural characteristics of electoral caudillismo, specifically noting factors which may lead to increased opposition party support. Those factors are tested using a unique municipio-level dataset, which suggests that low levels of government funding, high quality of life, and weak clientelistic networks of the previous party system are associated with higher levels of opposition support. The data also underscore the importance of political contention which adheres to the minimum standards of democratic conduct.