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Analysis, book reviews and photography from Abkhazia and the wider Caucasus — updates when time permits

Venezuela and Russia and flawed democracy

Following Tolstoy we may say that all happy democracies are alike. And probably, so are all totalitarian dictatorships. But all flawed democracies are flawed in their own way, as the Venezuelan Presidential election of last weekend demonstrates.

According to the official result, the election — following the death of Hugo Chávez — was won by Nicolás Maduro. His tiny majority (50.8%) puts paid to the commonly portrayed image of Venezuela in the west as a dictatorship. In comparison, such a close result is unprecedented in Russia, as is the fact that his challenger — Henrique Capriles, who scored 49.0% — is governor of Miranda, Venezuela’s largest state. Elections are fairer in Venezuela than in Russia. The problem with democracy in Venezuela is a weak rule of law and that, between elections, the President has near-dictatorial powers. Actually, these are also Russia’s problems. The difference lies in the fact that while Putin is generally recognised to be the choice of most Russians — however unfairly elections may be conducted — the administrative support Maduro enjoyed combined with even the smallest amount of manipulation make his popular majority dubious.

Filed under: Elections, Russia, Venezuela, ,

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