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Venezuela's Social-Based Democratic Model: Innovations and Limitations

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 September 2011

Abstract

Under the Chávez government, the incorporation and participation of popular sectors, which is the essence of ‘social-based democracy’, has been quantitatively and qualitatively different from socialist government and welfare-state strategies of the past. Venezuela's social-based democracy focuses on education, job skills, ideology, transformation of values and empowerment, achievements which Chavista leaders consider to be imperatives for socialist development. However, Chavista social programmes have been undermined by institutional weakness, are sometimes not cost-effective, and are politicised. Conflicting views among the Chavistas on the role of the state hinge on the issue of whether initiatives from above in favour of social-based democracy represent a viable strategy for far-reaching change. The Venezuelan government's changing priorities after 2007 have detracted from the primacy of social programmes.

Spanish abstract

Bajo el gobierno de Chávez, la incorporación y participación de los sectores populares, que es la esencia de la social-based democracy (la democracia que prioriza lo social), ha sido cuantitativa y cualitativamente diferente a las estrategias de los gobiernos socialistas o estados de bienestar social del pasado. La social-based democracy de Venezuela se centra en la educación, las habilidades en el trabajo, la ideología, la transformación de valores y el empoderamiento, logros que los dirigentes chavistas consideran como imperativos para un desarrollo socialista. Sin embargo, los programas sociales chavistas se han ido erosionando por debilidades institucionales, altos costos en comparación con sus logros, y politización. Los puntos de vista opuestos que se encuentran entre chavistas sobre el papel del estado tienen que ver con que si las iniciativas desde arriba a favor de la democracia social representan una estrategia viable para transformaciones de largo aliento. El cambio de prioridades del gobierno venezolano desde 2007 lo ha ido distanciando de la primacía de los programas sociales.

Portuguese abstract

Sob o governo Chávez, a incorporação e participação de setores populares, o que é a essência da social-based democracy (a democracia que prioriza a dimensão social) tem sido diferente das estratégias dos governos socialistas e dos estados de bem-estar social do passado em termos quantitativos e qualitativos. A social-based democracy venezuelana concentra-se em educação, capacitação profissional, ideologia, transformação de valores e empodeiramento, realizações que os líderes chavistas consideram imperativas para o desenvolvimento socialista. Entretanto, programas chavistas tem sido debilitados por fraquezas institucionais, e podem ter um custo-benefício duvidoso e são politizados. Visões conflitantes entre chavistas acerca do papel do estado estão relacionadas à questão de iniciativas partidas ‘de cima’ para favorecer a democracia social, se essas podem representar uma estratégia viável para alcançar mudanças profundas. A alteração de prioridades do governo venezuelano após 2007 diminuiu a primazia dos programas sociais.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011

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References

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