Movement for the Fifth Republic

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Movement for the Fifth Republic

The Movement for the Fifth Republic (MVR) is a Venezuelan leftist political party founded in 1997 by then-presidential candidate Hugo Chávez. The party's ideology is based on the creation of a socialist Venezuelan state, a project Chávez has dubbed the Bolivarian Revolution. Upon Chávez's release from prison following a failed coup attempt in 1992, the Bolivarian Revolutionary Movement (MBR-200) set its sights on victory in the December 1998 elections. In July 1997 the Movement for the Fifth Republic was created as the political organization of the MBR-200.

As the MVR presidential candidate, Hugo Chávez pledged to dismantle puntofijismo, a dualparty system created by the main political parties in 1958 under Marcos Pérez Jiménez's military regime. This promise of expanded political access, as part of a broader antipoverty and anticorruption platform, which also included constitutional re-form, attracted other alternative parties, including Movement to Socialism (MAS) and Homeland for All (PPT). When these parties opted to support Chávez, the Polo Patriotico (Patriotic Pole) alliance was created. This alliance secured Chávez a decisive victory on 6 December 1998. Chávez won the largest percentage of the popular vote (56.2%) in four decades. After a national referendum approved a new constitution in 1999, Chávez was reelected to a second six-year term. Boycotting by the political opposition during the 2005 parliamentary elections allowed the Movement for the Fifth Republic and its allies to win all 167 seats in the national assembly, consolidating power.

The name "Movement for the Fifth Republic" emphasizes the party's goal of reformulating the Venezuelan state. The Confederation of the States of Venezuela was created upon independence in 1811; although the Second Republic of Venezuela was quickly crushed, the country was liberated by Simón Bolívar in 1821 and incorporated into Gran Colombia. José Antonio Páez's rebellion in 1830 created the third Republic of Venezuela. In 1864 the country was renamed the United States of Venezuela, but in 1953, under Pérez Jiménez, it reverted to the Republic of Venezuela. Chávez created the fifth republic by renaming the country the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in 1999.

The Movement for the Fifth Republic has transformed Venezuela into a socialist state through largescale nationalization and the expansion of social projects, utilizing oil revenues to bankroll state grocery stores and medical programs as well as extensive foreign aid to other Latin American countries. The party has used nationalism and its antipoverty platform to consolidate popular support yet has been unable to stem political and social polarization in Venezuela.

Following his reelection in the December 2006 elections, Chávez proposed the dissolution of the MVR and the creation of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), which was to incorporate all twenty-three of the parties that form his support base. Although half of these parties did not join the PSUV, the MVR officially joined in March 2007. A national referendum proposing constitutional reforms that would have allowed Chávez to run for reelection failed at the polls in December 2007. The fears of Chávez's opposition, that the reforms would have allowed him to become president for life, did not come to pass. In the wake of the referendum's failure, the future of the PSUV is unclear.

See alsoChávez, Hugo; Pérez Jiménez, Marcos; Venezuela, Constitutions; Venezuela, Political Parties: Movement to Socialism (MAS).


Ellner, Steve and Daniel Hellinger, eds. Venezuelan politics in the Chávez Era: Class, Polarization, and Conflict. Boulder, CO: L. Rienner, 2003.

Gott, Richard. Hugo Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution. New York and London: Verso, 2005.

Medina, Medófilo, and Margarita López Maya. Venezuela: Confrontación Social y Polarización Política. Bogota: Ediciones Aurora, 2003.

Romero, Aníbal. Venezuela: Historia y Política (Venezuela: History and Politics. Caracas: Editorial Panapo, 2002.

                            Katy Berglund Schlesinger

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Movement for the Fifth Republic

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