Venezuela suffered a great loss when president Hugo Chavez passed away in March of 2013. His funeral gathered large crowds consisting of people even from the lowest classes of society. These people were there to say goodbye to the man who has given them a political identity. Many woman considered Chavez not only as their president but also as their, father, brother, and husband. With Chavez’s personality and character being engraved into the political scene, the election for his successor becomes heavily based on support from Chavez fans. For those who mourn Chavez, Maduro was the clear candidate yet his lead was not secure. Opposing candidate Capriles gained momentum in the election closing the gap. Despite the result of the election, either candidate would find themselves in a difficult situation due to the dysfunction of the state.1
Legally a Russian president can only serve for two consecutive terms but this regulation did not create a problem for Putin. In 2018 Putin was elected for his second-second term as president of Russia. In 2024, Putin’s term will be up and he will be forced to leave office. Due to Putin being such a central part of Russia’s political scene, many fear what is to come when Putin steps down from office. Although many people cannot imagine a successor for Putin because he has wiped away most if not all of the viable competition, people fear what will happen if Putin doesn’t step down becoming the next tsar.2
Is it possible to have a peaceful and effortless transition of power in a personalistic regime?
In many authoritarian regimes, the personality of the leader is often reflected in the regime. Many political scientist categorize this type of regime as personalistic authoritarianism. Often in a personalistic regime, the people worship the ruler and many see the leader not only as the “government” of the state, but even as the regime itself. In both present-day Russia and pre-2013 Venezuela, the population could not image a country without the leadership of their presidents. This type of regime can cause problems not only when the character is in power but rather when the leave office because their personality is so ingrained into the regime. The best option for a smooth transition may often be a person with similar ideals and goals as the exiting president, however, this does not guarantee a smooth transition.
- Boris Munoz, “In the Shadow of Chávez,” The New Yorker, (April 13, 3013).
- Shaun Walker, “2018 Election is no problem for Putin–but what about 2024?” The Guardian, (February 6, 2018). https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/06/2018-election-is-no-problem-for-putin-but-what-about-2024.