Texas Tech University

Latin American Politics Expert Available to Discuss Venezuelan, Colombian Elections

Glenys Young

May 14, 2018

Iñaki Sagarzazu is an assistant professor in the Texas Tech University Department of Political Science who specializes in Venezuelan politics and how institutions’ roles in politics affect individual voters.

MEDIA – Iñaki Sagarzazu will be in Houston through May 21 and after May 28. He is available for in-person interviews while he is there as well as interviews via phone or Skype.

Two Latin American neighboring countries are holding presidential elections only a week apart in a move that could have major repercussions in the region.

Venezuela's internationally controversial election – initially scheduled for December 2018 before being advanced to April and then delayed – is now set for Sunday (May 20). Colombia has scheduled its election for May 27, but with more than a dozen candidates, it's possible no candidate will receive the necessary majority. In that case, the top two will go into a runoff on June 17.

Iñaki Sagarzazu is an assistant professor in the Texas Tech University Department of Political Science who specializes in Venezuelan politics and how institutions' roles in politics affect individual voters. His research has been published in the American Journal of Political Science, the British Journal of Political Science, Political Behavior, West European Politics, Political Science Research & Methods, Latin American Politics & Society and Policy Studies Journal, as well as in several book chapters in edited volumes. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Latin American politics and political communications. Sagarzazu sometimes posts his political analyses on Twitter and his blog. He is fluent in both English and Spanish.

Iñaki Sagarzazu
Iñaki Sagarzazu

Expert

Iñaki Sagarzazu, assistant professor of political science, (832) 230-6021 or inaki.sagarzazu@ttu.edu

Talking points

  • Venezuela:
    • Venezuela is not a democracy, however, the regime looking for validation is holding presidential elections to follow the electoral calendar.
    • These elections cannot be considered free and fair under typical criteria because major opposition leaders are in exile or being persecuted, and opposition parties are banned from participating.
    • The elections are not recognized by the international community, and major countries in the Americas – including the United States – and the European Union have called for the elections to be cancelled and properly called.
    • A very low participation is expected.
  • Colombia:
    • Colombia's incumbent president has hit his term limit, and his party has no candidate.
    • The elections have, as a backdrop, the peace agreement signed between the current administration and the guerilla Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People's Army (FARC) organization that ended the longest civil war in the world.
    • This agreement, among other things, allows the participation of FARC members in elections together with some elements of transitional justice. While the FARC's presidential candidate withdrew due to health reasons, the group's closeness to the Venezuelan regime and the current crisis in Venezuela – which is seeing a massive exodus of citizens, a significant group of whom are simply crossing the border to neighboring Colombia – are fueling both an anti-left, anti-peace process rhetoric on the right and a populist message from the left.
    • This has somewhat polarized the electorate. Expected to advance to the second round are a left-wing populist and a right-wing populist, who is a member of former President Alvaro Uribe's party. Centrist candidates, who have been unable to coordinate a formula to confront these two extremes, hope the polls are wrong and one of the centrists can advance.