Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: State-managed participatory democracy in Venezuela : the case of the Communal Councils
Author: Gill, Adam M. W. H.
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2012
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
This dissertation is concerned with participatory democracy in Bolivarian Venezuela, and based on fieldwork conducted in Merida, Venezuela, between 2008 and 2009. Two case studies of Consejo Comunales (Communal Councils, CC), one in a middle class parish, and another in a poorer part of the city, form the basis of the research. The dissertation contributes to the debate on participatory democracy, arguing that the CCs are state-managed and are therefore part of the development of a new state, one based on the principles of Socialism of the twenty-first century, as promoted by the PSUV. As part of the development of Socialism of the twenty-first century, the PSUV views the CCs as the embodiment of the participatory element of the Estado Comunal. The development of the CCs can also be seen as an attempt to resolve the inadequacies of the previous Fourth Republic. The Punta Fijo party politics of the Fourth Republic saw two major parties fonn a pact and then share (negotiated) power from 1958-1998. Poor Venezuelans lived on the periphery of society, without basic amenities, and many were not even registered as citizens. There were few sufficient spaces for participation at a local level for poor Venezuelans, and this can be seen as an extended period of exclusion for the non-privileged population. In stark contrast, the CCs are widespread and funded by the state. At a local level government agencies are responsible for financing and supporting the development of the councils, thus promoting the proposed Estado Comunal as well as Bolivarian principles such as endogenous development. As CCs are state-managed they can be seen as part of a 'dual government' structure that would have replaced Fourth Republic bureaucracy and local democracy, but these still exist alongside one another. This dual government is made up of participatory initiatives and Misiones Sociales (Social Missions), which are designed to work together to provide government goods, services and financial resources to those in need. However, the co-existing strands of local government and the CCs are subject to conflict, and communities can be left without local government-supplied public works and services. This is exacerbated by the fact that dual-government has not been fully developed to facilitate this integration. The central argument of this dissertation is that state-managed participation, reflected in a case study of two CCs in Merida, can lead to conflicts between new instances of local government (i.e. dual government) and existing local democracy. As the process of participation is state-managed, the CCs are politicised according to the PSUV's desire to implement Socialism of the twenty-first century. CCs have had mixed results, which is reflected in both their relationship with state agencies and their acceptance or opposition to the dominant state political discourse.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available