Title

Opposition at the Margins: Strategies against the Erosion of Democracy in Colombia and Venezuela

Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Comparative Politics

Volume

49

Issue

4

Publisher

SAGE

Publication Date

7-1-2017

First Page

457

Last Page

477

DOI

10.5129/001041517821273044

Abstract

This article argues that the goals and strategies the opposition uses against presidents with hegemonic aspirations are critical to understand why some leaders successfully erode democracy, while others fail. Using interviews and archival research, I trace the dynamics of erosion in Alvaro Uribe’s (Colombia) and Hugo Chávez’s (Venezuela) administrations. I show that during the first years of these governments, the opposition in both countries had some institutional leverage. The Colombian opposition used that leverage. It resorted to institutional and moderate extra-institutional strategies, which protected its institutional resources and allowed it to eventually stop Uribe’s second reelection reform. The Venezuelan opposition forsook that leverage and chose radical extra-institutional strategies instead. The latter cost it the institutional resources it had, and helped Chávez advance more radical reforms.

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