ABSTRACT

The victory of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela inaugurated a wave of left-wing governments across Latin America, often called Left Turn, due to the fact that it followed a decade of domination by liberal economic policies. However, there were important and striking differences between these left-wing governments, many of which have been analyzed in the abundant literature about the phenomena. Most of the approaches to the Left Turn have been dichotomic, basically dividing the governments into radical-populist and moderate categories, and focused on issues ranging from the type of political mobilization or institutionalization of the party system to the policies implemented by respective governments. The authors offer a new typology based on the governments’ approach to the transformation of political regime using Schmitter’s concept of partial regimes. They consider regime changes as democratic transformations that sought to replace one type of democracy with another democratic regime, emphasizing vertical accountability to the detriment of the horizontal one. The group of countries that carried out the regime change (Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia) are then further analyzed from the perspective of their similarities and differences. While Chavismo abandoned the democratic camp, the other two cases remained basically democratic, although definitely not liberal democratic.