The study of Latin American politics has always generated great new research questions, and within Latin America, no country's experience has generated more interesting questions than Venezuela since the election of Hugo Chávez in 1998. Contemporary Venezuela raises fascinating questions about the collapse of a highly institutionalized party system and the erosion or breakdown of what had been the third-oldest democracy outside of the advanced industrial democracies. What accounts for these stunning developments? What can we learn from them? These issues go to the core of important developments in Latin American politics, and they are major issues for comparative political scientists beyond Latin America.
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