Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Political Science


Mark D. Ungar


authoritarianism, opposition, Turkey, Venezuela, fragmentation, coordination


Democracies around the world continue to decline at the hands of democratic leaders elected by majority vote in free and fair elections. Turkey, one of the oldest democracies in the Middle East has experienced democratic breakdown under the leadership of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Similarly, Venezuela was one of the longest-running and most established liberal democracies in the Latin American region. Hugo Chávez and his successor Nicolás Maduro have turned the country into one of the most authoritarian regimes in the world. Turkey has been experiencing a prolonged economic decline for nearly a decade. Venezuela’s economy has suffered due to the policies adopted by the Chávez administration. How could an electoral authoritarian win re-election even under difficult economic conditions? Despite the fast-growing economic challenges, why haven’t the opposition parties been more successful in preventing democratic erosions in these countries? This study takes a closer look at the state of opposition actors and points out how the oppositions in both countries have failed to coordinate their efforts to prevent the democratic backsliding in these countries, rather opposition strategies reinforced incumbent’s attempt to create personalization of power. The fragmentation among the opposition actors and their inability to work together have contributed to the emergence of a one-party government system in these countries. Democracy can be better protected when the opposition actors become united claiming electoral fairness and other democratic norms.