Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Chávez and 2012

Venezuelan presidential elections are normally held in December, but in 2012 will be held on October 7.  Of course, this has created all sorts of speculation given Hugo Chávez's health. The fact that no explanation was offered doesn't help.

Unlike in parliamentary systems, presidential elections tend to be quite fixed. Changes in election date are not unknown in Latin America, but tend to be associated with political crisis (counterexamples are welcome if anyone knows them). Indeed, the fixity is normally seen as a nice sign of political stability. There is no political crisis in Venezuela (polarization, yes, but not crisis) so Chávez's cancer becomes an obvious focus. It is hard to imagine, however, how two months will matter that much.  But obviously Chávez sees those two months as important for something.

From a purely pedagogical perspective, it works well for me. I normally teach Latin American Politics in the fall, so now the election will fall in the middle of the semester and should generate a lot of discussion.

See here for a nice rundown on Venezuelan elections under Chávez.


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