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Venezuela’s Polarized Politics: The Paradox of Direct Democracy Under Chávez

Ana L. Mallen and María Pilar García-Guadilla
Venezuela’s Polarized Politics: The Paradox of Direct Democracy Under Chávez
ISBN: 978-1-62637-589-5
ISBN: 978-1-62637-716-5
2017/170 pages
A FirstForumPress Book
"A sound and welcome revision to literature on democracy and polarization." —Guillermo T. Aveledo, NACLA: Report on The Americas

“An important contribution.... The book will appeal not only to experts on Venezuela but also to students of populism, left-wing politics, democratic theory, and contentious politics.” —Orçun Selçuk, Democratization

"Brilliant.... One of the most important books on Venezuela that have come out in recent years."—Daniel Hellinger, Webster University

"Delivers one of the most penetrating, illuminating, and convincing explanations for the extreme sociopolitical polarization in Venezuela's Bolivarian republic."—Eduardo Silva, Tulane University


During Hugo Chávez's presidency, Venezuelan society underwent a sudden—and vicious—split between the Chavistas and the Opposition. What accounts for the extreme intensity of the split? How did differences so quickly become irreconcilable? What role did the media play? Answering these and related questions, Ana Mallen and María Pilar García-Guadilla explore how participatory democracy led to profound social polarization in Venezuela.


Ana L. Mallen has researched Venezuelan politics for fifteen years. She has worked with communities in Mexico, the United States, and Venezuela. María Pilar García-Guadilla is professor of political and urban sociology at the Universidad Simón Bolívar in Venezuela.


  • Polarization and Democracy in Venezuela.
  • Participatory Democracy and the Public Sphere.
  • Political Ghettos in Caracas.
  • Media Wars.
  • The Fragmentation of the Public Sphere.
  • The New Student Movement: Dreams of Unity.
  • Unabated Polarization in Venezuela.