This thesis explores the relations between democracy and decentralization in
Venezuela during the period from 1989 to 2000. In particular it explores the
emergence of political decentralization as the spatial distribution of power and its
links with the process of democratization within political spaces. The spatial
distribution of power has impacts upon both political institutions and civil society.
This is where its central importance lies. Because of this, the framework of ideas
underlying the thesis is followed within a methodologicalf ocus that emphasizesb oth
the potency of the spatial, as a guiding element of politics and the political, and the
local scale and the political practice of individuals. The backgroundt o the study is establishedth rough an explorationo f territoriality and
the spatiality of power in Venezuela during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
This is followed by an analysis of the centralist form of the state and the state reforms
which were promoted at the end of the 1980s and which gave rise to the political
decentralization of 1989 at the level of states and municipalities. The main period of
study (1989-2000) is divided into three stages according to the dynamics of the
process of democratization itself. Finally, the changes occurring at the local level
through the application of decentralization are analyzed through a case study at the
level of the municipality and of the parish: the Libertador municipality of the state of
Mdrida and the parish of J. J. Osuna Rodriguez. The specific local examples explored in the thesis allow highlighted the ways in
which clientelism can be associated with the vertical structures of power that have
predominated in Latin America. Nevertheless, whilst its importance has been
highlighted here through an understanding of the process of democratisation on the
South American continent, it is interesting to note that it is not often explicitly
considered as another mode of power in western political theory.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.