After the 1999 Constitution, Venezuela is a democratic
federal republic. The supreme formal and real authority is
added to a president, elected in the general election for
six years. Following a referendum on constitutional
amendments in 2009, there is the possibility of re-election
without restriction for a number of key offices, including
the presidential office.
The president appoints the government and is the military
commander. Legislative authority has been added to the
National Assembly (Asamblea Nacional). It has one
chamber (until 2000 there were two chambers) with 167
members, who are elected in the general election for five
Since the election of Hugo Chávez in 1998 and the
drafting of a new constitution adopted by referendum in
2000, a number of political battles have been fought around
the political system and the constitution. In 2007, for
example, a referendum was held on a number of proposals for
amendments to the Constitution. The proposals were drafted
by the National Assembly and by Chávez himself. These were
rejected by barely a margin. In 2009, the most controversial
proposal was put forward for a new referendum and approved,
which meant that holders of political office, including the
president, could run for re-election. In 2017, to the great
opposition of the opposition, the Maduro government printed
elections for the Constitutional Assembly. This stripped the
opposition-dominated National Assembly of power.
Since 1959, when Marcos Pérez Jiménez's military regime
ended, politics has traditionally been dominated by two
parties, the Democratic Action (AD) and the Christian Social
Party (COPEI). In 1998 and 2006, Hugo Chávez won the
presidential election of the Movement for the Fifth Republic
Party (Movimiento V República, MVR).
In 2012, Hugo Chávez won the presidential election of the
Venezuelan Socialist Party (PSOV). In April 2013, Nicolas
Maduro won the presidential election for the same party
after Chavez died in March 2013. Central opposition parties
are Justice First (Justicia Primero) and New Age (Un Nuevo
Tiempo) and Democratic Action (AD). See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how VZ can stand for Venezuela.
Venezuela is divided into 22 states, as well as the
federal area (the capital) and 72 federal areas (islands in
the Antilles). Each state is led by a people-elected council
and a elected governor. The states are further divided into
municipalities (alcaldias) and boroughs (parroquias) with
At local level, the population has the opportunity to
organize and constitute itself through elections such as
municipal councils (consejos comunales) and municipalities (comunas).
These bodies are regulated by the Law for Municipal Councils
(Ley de los Consejos Comunales) of 2009 and the Law for
Municipalities (Ley de las Comunas) of 2010.
The judiciary is national and consists of Supreme Court,
convicts and several secondary courts for civil and criminal
cases in the states, as well as local first instance courts.
There are several special courts: military courts, youth
courts, labor courts, administrative courts, financial
courts and agricultural courts. The Supreme Court has 32
judges. A judicial committee appoints the members of lower
courts. There is also an ombudsman who, together with the
Auditor General and the Attorney General, monitors the
Venezuela has a military service after being selected
with 30 months' initial service. The total force figures for
Venezuela's armed forces are 123,000 active personnel, with
a reserve of 8,000 personnel (2018, IISS). In addition,
220,000 semi-military come in a national militia.
The army has a workforce of around 63,000 active
personnel. Materials include 173 tanks (81 AMX-30, and 92
T-72), 109 light tanks (31 AMX-13, and 78 Scorpion), 237
storm tanks (123 BMP-3, and 114 BTR-80), 81 armored
personnel vehicles, and 60 self-propelled artillery. In
addition, the Army has heavy artillery, 28 light transport
aircraft, and 51 helicopters, including ten Mi-35 combat
The Air Force has a personnel force of 11,500 active
personnel. Material comprising 21 fighters of a F-16, 23
fighter aircraft of the type Su-30, seven attack aircraft of
the type of the OV-10 Bronco, four EK-planes, one tanker, 75
transport, 84 trainers (of which 42 can be used as light
attack aircraft), and 31 helicopters.
Air Force command
The air defense command uses personnel from the other
defense branches. Materials include long range anti-aircraft
missiles and anti-aircraft artillery.
The Navy has a workforce of about 25,500 active
personnel, including 1,000 Coast Guard personnel and about
15,000 Marines. The fleet included two tactical underwater
boats, six frigates, ten patrol vessels, seven landings, and
ten logistics and auxiliary vessels. In addition, the Navy
has two maritime patrol aircraft, seven light transport
aircraft and 18 helicopters.
The naval forces have materials that include 10 light
tanks, 21 storm tanks, light artillery, 23 patrol vessels
and 14 landings.
The National Guard has a workforce of 23,000 active
personnel. Materials include 44 armored personnel vehicles,
34 patrol vessels, 34 light transport aircraft, three
training aircraft and 37 helicopters.