Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences


Political Science and Law

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Anthony Spanakos

Committee Member

Ian Drake

Committee Member

Marilyn Tayler


At what point can we discern when a regime has transitioned from one that suffers from predictable pathologies of hyper-presidentialism, to one that is increasingly authoritarian? Democratic politics and regime crisis have often been analyzed through lenses of populism (which employ anti-liberal forms of governance) and presidentialism (which create institutional pathologies from within). Nevertheless, both have undermined the role of the court in shaping regime transition. The judicial decisions explored in this paper will reveal that the high court is the final indicator of a regime shift from hyperpresidentialism to a more authoritarian system. To substantiate this claim, this paper will apply a historical institutional approach and will examine rulings of the court in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela under the different mandates of Presidents Chavez (1999-2013) and Maduro (2013-present). These will reveal how the court has used its power to limit crucial spaces of political contestation in the legislative and electoral arenas. Overall the change over time of the court will reveal the impact that judicialization and judicial empowerment have on regime change.

File Format