Bibliography on Party Politics in VENEZUELA, 1950-1962

Marcelino Miyares and Judith Newsome Gillespie

The literature on Venezuelan party politics focuses primarily on the time period after the fall of Perez Jiminez's regime in 1957. The political development of Venezuela entered a new stage characterized by the reconstruction of the party system and interparty cooperation, which subsequently led to the 1958 elections and the building of a constitutional system of government. As a result of the post-1957 political developments, the literature emphasizes party building activities. This factor is reflected in its concentration on leadership and the electoral process. Within this particular focus, the literature maintains an essentially descriptive nature with a large degree of attention given to Romulo Betancourt and the Democratic Action Party, thereby suggesting some preference for this organization and its leader.

Material Processed into ICPP Information Files

The material on Venezuelan party politics processed into the ICPP information files includes 795 pages from 60 documents. All information is in English, except for five pages indexed from the French newspaper, Le Monde. As demonstrated in the table of substantial codes, the first four general substantive coding categories form a revealing profile of party literature. The most frequently used major category, "party composition" (3--), is dominated by two codes: "party leadership" (code 360) and "party factions" (code 370). This category shows the emphasis within the literature as well as in the actual party politics on the leaders who spearheaded the reconstruction, principally Betancourt.

The factionalism which resulted from the amalgamation and eventual interparty strife of various interest groups is also salient in Venezuelan party development.

The frequency of "election processes" (code 810) and "cooperative activities" (code 840) between parties, as indicated by the prominence of the "party system" codes (8--), reveals the emphasis on unity and legitimacy within the newly developing party system. The third most frequently used major category, "party activities" (2--), shows both the political turbulence and the need for legitimacy in Venezuelan party life. The most prominent codes in this class--"selects candidates and party officials" (code 200) and "causes demonstrations" (code 270)-- are related to elections and extra-party struggles.

Finally, the overall predominance of "issue orientation" (code 530) in the "party goals" category indicates the concern over party platforms and campaign issues as they emerge through the electoral process. In summary, the literature profiles Venezuelan party politics as a combination of cohesive and divisive forces with leadership, party cooperation, and issue orientation acting as unifying factors&endash;&endash;and factionalism, electioneering, and demonstration activities frustrating internal and external party stability.

Some Observations on the State of the Literature

A general profile of the literature indexed is presented in the data quality table. Most documents are journal articles, written in English by academics, and published in the United States. Their original sources are largely English with little indication of field research. Most of the material is generated during the time period of 1955-1959, followed by the 1960-1964 period. There is little quantification, no propositions, and few footnotes. Most of the literature has been evaluated by the indexers as being of medium quality, centrist ideology, and objective in its descriptions. Those documents which do use some quantification, show a great deal of diversity in statistics and tables.

AnaIysis of this profile indicates that the literature is dominated by two principal academics, R. J. Alexander and J. D. Martz. Martz alone contributes more than one fourth of the pages in the file. Thus, the literature reveals a lack of diversity in contributions. The literature is, to a great extent, the product of American scholars whose particular focus on Betancourt does not reflect the totality of the party politics of Venezuela. Finally, there is no major theoretical analysis or comparative study of the Venezuelan parties but an abundance of unsubstantial journal articles on party politics. Therefore, the needs are many: comprehensive coverage of all parties, more diversity in authorship, and more theoretical analysis.