Undergraduate Honors Thesis


Why Do Voters Elect Authoritarian Leaders?: Competitive Authoritarianism under Hugo Chávez Public Deposited

  • Authoritarian leaders are able to assume and sustain power via a wide array of mechanisms that

    typically entail a large degree of coercion and manipulation. Although the question of

    authoritarianism and how it manifests itself is an important one with critical implications in the

    modern world, there is perhaps an even more fascinating question, that asks how leaders with

    authoritarian tendencies are able to harness public support and get elected through electoral

    processes. This thesis aims to present potential explanations as to why voters elect authoritarian

    leaders, with a focus on Hugo Ch.vez, former president of Venezuela. For the entirety of

    Ch.vez’s time in office, he was able to maintain strong popular support despite policies that

    mirrored those of some of the most autocratic leaders in history, including extensive media

    censorship, nationalization of some of the most prominent industries in the country, and the

    complete political upheaval of judicial entities (to name a few examples.) Still, Ch.vez was able

    to continue appealing to large swaths of the Venezuelan populace up until his untimely death in

    2013. This paper will analyze two possible sources of Ch.vez’s popularity: his appeals to

    populism and his anti-West rhetoric. Both categories will guide my hypotheses and ultimately

    elucidate the phenomenon of competitive authoritarianism, and why and how it has gained

    prominence, specifically in last two centuries.

Date Awarded
  • 2022-04-07
Academic Affiliation
Committee Member
Granting Institution
Last Modified
  • 2022-05-16
Resource Type
Rights Statement


In Collection: