University of Pittsburgh
November 30, 2006

Results of the Venezuela Election Could Debunk U.S. Claim That Chavez Is a Dictator, Pitt Faculty Expert Says

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PITTSBURGH-Scott Morgenstern, associate professor of political science at the University of Pittsburgh, says elections, though not the only defining factor of a democracy, are essential. According to Morgenstern, Hugo Chavez, who was elected in 1998, re-elected in 2000, and faced a recall election in 2004, will almost undoubtedly emerge the clear victor in Sunday's elections.

"Without altering the political landscape, the elections will have an important impact: delegitimizing the U.S. claims that Chavez is a dictator," Morgenstern says. "While the United States has repeatedly referred to Chavez as a dictator, his continued willingness to face the voters calls that label into question. He also continues to allow a vociferous opposition media to operate, and a primary reason that he has consolidated power is that the opposition parties sat out the last congressional election. Further, various independent international agencies have monitored past elections and will do so again."

Morgenstern's areas of research include Latin American politics, comparative politics, and political institutions. He has published extensively in the area of Latin American politics and is on the faculty of Pitt's Center for Latin American Studies; his most recent book is Patterns of Legislative Politics: Roll Call Voting in the United States and Latin America's Southern Cone (Cambridge University Press, 2003).

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