Populist Leaders: a Comparison of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and the Republic of Belarus Cases
Abstract
The article is devoted to the analysis of the case of Nicolás Maduro, President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Despite the serious crisis of the state (political, social, economic), which consists in a multiple drop in the level of GDP, the destruction of the oil industry, hyperinflation, a decrease in incomes of the population, mass emigration, foreign policy pressure, the politician enjoys the support of the population and retains his post. The decisive elements of Venezuela's plight lie in the resource curse and the country's socialist orientation, the first point being dictated by prior development (the rut effect). The creation of an unbalanced economic system in the 20th century turned into a long crisis in the same century, which continues to this day. This process was strengthened by the coming to power of left-wing populists — Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro. Using the mobilization of socially unprotected sections of the population and oil revenues, the two leaders managed to create a socio-political system that confirms its viability to this day. However, there is a contradiction between the resource economy, aimed at the export of energy resources and the increase in government spending, associated with jumps in world oil prices. The instruments of influence with the electorate of N. Maduro, which ensure his political success, are described, in particular, the appeal to the masses, the active use of social networks. The Venezuelan situation has common features with the Belarusian crisis of 2020-2021. Despite their similarity, the differences between these two cases are identified. The role of the foreign policy factor in the stabilization of such regimes is shown. The decisive factor in maintaining the status quo of the Venezuelan regime is the solidity of the power elites who have expressed loyalty to Nicolas Maduro. In the Belarusian case, the foreign policy factor (the influence of the Russian Federation) joins the elite factor. Given the current state of international relations, there are two possible scenarios for the development of events regarding the position of the Venezuelan president. The first is to maintain the status quo, the second is to reorient Venezuela towards the Western community. Regarding the Republic of Belarus, the first option will be relevant. However, different outcomes are possible in the near future, given the extremely unstable situation in the system of international relations.
Keywords
Nicolas Maduro; Venezuela; political crisis; oil; resource curse; failed state.
Author
Dmitri Polikarpov