From bullets to ballots: The emergence of popular support for Hugo Chávez

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The election of Hugo Chávez as Venezuela's president in 1998, less than seven years after his unsuccessful military coup attempt, marked a pivotal moment in one of the most dramatic political transformations in the nation's history. This article explores public reaction to Chávez's shift, especially the question of why Venezuelans would entrust democratic governance to a man who had once attempted to topple the nation's democratic regime. Two hypotheses are proposed: one of converted militancy and one of democratic ambivalence. Analysis of survey data from 1995 and 1998 demonstrates that Chávez's initial base of support drew heavily on Venezuelans who were ambivalent or hostile toward democracy. By 1998, and consistent with the converted militant hypothesis, Chávez won support from a substantial portion of citizens who valued democracy. Yet democratic ambivalence also contributed to Chávez's winning electoral coalition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-90
Number of pages22
JournalLatin American Politics and Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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