Democratic Action (Venezuela)

Democratic Action (Spanish: Acción Democrática, AD) is a Venezuelan social democratic and centre-left political party established in 1941. The party played an important role in the early years of Venezuelan democracy, leading the government during Venezuela's first democratic period (1945–1948). A decade of dictatorship under Marcos Pérez Jiménez followed, which saw AD excluded from power. With the advent of democracy in 1958, four Presidents of Venezuela came from Acción Democrática from the 1950s to the 1990s during the two-party period with COPEI.

Democratic Action
Acción Democrática
PresidentIsabel Carmona de Serra [es] (de jure)
Rubén Antonio Limas Telles (de facto)[1]
General SecretaryHenry Ramos Allup (de jure)[2]
José Bernabé Gutiérrez (de facto)[3]
FounderRómulo Betancourt
Founded13 September 1941; 82 years ago (1941-09-13)
HeadquartersLa Florida, Caracas, Venezuela
IdeologySocial democracy[4][5]
Left-wing nationalism[6][7][8]
Political positionCentre-left[11]
National affiliationDemocratic Alliance
Unitary Platform
International affiliationSocialist International
Regional affiliationCOPPPAL
Colors  White (official)
Seats in the National Assembly
11 / 277
1 / 23
State legislatures
17 / 237
0 / 335

Since 2000, the party's general secretary has been Henry Ramos Allup. In the 2015 Venezuelan parliamentary election, AD backed the opposition electoral alliance Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) which managed to grasp a supermajority. AD won 26 constituency representatives out of 167 seats in the unicameral National Assembly, making it the second-largest party in opposition to Nicolás Maduro. In July 2018, AD left the Democratic Unity Roundtable opposition coalition.[12]



Early years: 1931–1958


The party had a chaotic early history. The Agrupación Revolucionaria de Izquierda (ARDI) was founded in 1931 in Colombia by Rómulo Betancourt and other exile Venezuelans. In 1936 this became the Movimiento de Organización Venezolana (ORVE), which was then dissolved into the Partido Democrático Nacional (PDN). Finally, in 1941, after Isaías Medina Angarita legalized all political parties in Venezuela, Acción Democrática was founded by Betancourt and others. These included Rómulo Gallegos, Andrés Eloy Blanco, Luis Beltrán Prieto, Juan Oropeza, Luis Lander, Raúl Ramos Jiménez, Medardo Medina Febres, Enrique H. Marín, Rafael Padrón, Fernando Peñalver, Luis Augusto Dubuc, César Hernández, José V. Hernández and Ricardo Montilla. Gallegos was a highly prestigious writer, author of the iconic novel, Doña Bárbara (1929), while Eloy Blanco was a celebrated Venezuelan poet and witty humorist.

After the October 1945 revolution, Betancourt was President of Venezuela until Rómulo Gallegos won the 1947 election, generally believed to be the first free and fair elections in Venezuelan history. The party won a vast majority of seats in the municipal elections the following year. Gallegos governed until being overthrown in the 1948 Venezuelan coup d'état. The 1945–48 period is known as the trienio. Many of AD's founders and early members went into exile during the subsequent dictatorship of Marcos Pérez Jiménez, and returned for the restoration of democracy in 1958.

Political dominance: 1958–1999


After the restoration of democracy, AD joined the 1958 Puntofijo Pact, initiating a forty-year period of two-party dominance by AD and COPEI. Betancourt won the 1958 election, and Raúl Leoni won the following 1963 elections. AD also won in 1973 (Carlos Andrés Pérez), 1983 (Jaime Lusinchi), and 1988 (Carlos Andrés Pérez again). From 1958 to 1999, AD's candidates only lost four out of nine presidential elections (two to COPEI, in 1968 and 1978, two to third-party candidates in 1993 and 1998), and one of those occurred during a major split in AD.



The 1968 presidential election was shaped by the internal split of Democratic Action, with a substantial leftist faction breaking away to form the Movimiento Electoral del Pueblo (MEP). The split was the result of Luis Beltrán Prieto Figueroa's victory in the 1967 AD primary election, only to see his nomination overturned by the party's reformist social democrat faction (led by Betancourt) in favor of Gonzalo Barrios, with the Betancourt faction considering Prieto too far left.[13]

Prieto Figueroa, at the time President of the Venezuelan Senate as well as President of AD, split from AD over the affair along with a substantial number of his supporters.[13] The result was that the 1968 election marked AD's first-ever electoral loss, when COPEI's Rafael Caldera won the Presidency with less than 30% of the vote, just ahead of AD's Barrios. Prieto Figueroa attained nearly 20%, attaining fourth place behind the Unión Republicana Democrática's Miguel Ángel Burelli Rivas.[citation needed]

An earlier split, in 1960, saw the Revolutionary Left Movement break away from AD. Its subsequent engagement in armed struggle against the government meant the split posed less of a partisan problem compared the later MEP split.[citation needed]

Chávez/Maduro era: 1999–present

AD posters during a rally in support of RCTV in 2007

The Puntofijo Pact and AD-COPEI duopoly over Venezuelan politics collapsed in the early 1990s in the face of a severe economic and political crisis, culminating in the impeachment of AD member and President of Venezuela Carlos Andrés Pérez for corruption and the 1993 election of former COPEI leader Rafael Caldera on a National Convergence coalition platform. Caldera's failure to resolve the economic crisis created the political environment for the 1998 election of Hugo Chávez. In the 2000 elections for the new National Assembly of Venezuela, AD won 29 out of 165 seats; four additional seats were won by an AD-COPEI alliance. At the 2005 legislative elections Democratic Action staged an electoral boycott and consequently did not win any seats.[14]

During the 2010 and 2015 elections, AD was part of the Democratic Unity Roundtable. In the 2015 elections where the Roundtable won the National Assembly in a 109-seat majority, AD won 25 seats. The Roundtable parties boycotted the 2017 elections to the Constituent Assembly and participated in an unofficial referendum against its formation.[15] In July 2018, AD left the Democratic Unity Roundtable, citing "operative problems inside the organization" and difficulties in electing the new secretary general of the coalition.[12]

Acción Democrática's Secretary General is Henry Ramos Allup. The trade union confederation CTV is closely linked to AD. AD is a member of the Socialist International,[16] and a member of COPPPAL.[17]

Venezuelan Presidents from AD

President Dates in office Form of entry Occupation
  Rómulo Betancourt 1945–1948 Coup d'état Politician
Rómulo Gallegos 1948-1948 Direct elections Writer / Novelist
  Rómulo Betancourt 1959–1964 Direct elections Politician
Raúl Leoni 1964–1969 Direct elections Lawyer
  Carlos Andrés Pérez 1974–1979 Direct elections Politician
  Jaime Lusinchi 1984–1989 Direct elections Physician
  Carlos Andrés Pérez 1989–1993 Direct elections Politician
  Ramón José Velásquez 1993–1994 Interim president Historian

See also



  1. ^ "Rubén Limas (AD-Gutiérrez): Una verdadera unidad nacional debe estar por encima de todo cálculo y de toda mezquindad…". El Informador Venezuela. 6 February 2021.
  2. ^ "AD de Ramos Allup no pactará con "usurpadores de su tarjeta"". El Universal. 13 September 2021. Retrieved 4 October 2021.
  3. ^ Nacional, El (16 June 2020). "TSJ suspendió directiva de AD y designó una mesa ad hoc presidida por Bernabé Gutiérrez". El Nacional.
  4. ^ "Is Social Democracy Possible in Latin America?". Retrieved 29 December 2021.
  5. ^ Lamb, Peter; Docherty, James C. (2006), Historical Dictionary or Socialism (Second ed.), Scarecrow Press, p. 100
  6. ^ "Partido Acción Democrática. Postulados doctrinarios | Nueva Sociedad". Nueva Sociedad | Democracia y política en América Latina. 1 January 1979. Retrieved 29 December 2021.
  7. ^ Rivas, Darlene (2002), Missionary Capitalist: Nelson Rockefeller in Venezuela, University of North Carolina Press, p. 108
  8. ^ Derham, Michael (2010), Politics in Venezuela: Explaining Hugo Chávez, Peter Lang, p. 155
  9. ^ "¿Qué es Acción Democrática? » Su Definición y Significado [2022]". Concepto de - Definición de (in Spanish). Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  10. ^ "Venepress". Archived from the original on 30 March 2020.
  11. ^ Buckman, Robert T. (2012), The World Today Series, 2012: Latin America, Stryker-Post, p. 366
  12. ^ a b "Ramos Allup confirmó la salida de Acción Democrática de la MUD". El Nacional (in Spanish). 5 July 2018. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  13. ^ a b David L. Swanson, Paolo Mancini (1996), Politics, media, and modern democracy: an international study of innovations in electoral campaigning and their consequences, Greenwood Publishing Group. p244
  14. ^ "Opposition parties pull out of Venezuela elections". The Irish Times. Retrieved 3 October 2017.
  15. ^ "Clashes as new body meets in Venezuela". BBC News. 5 August 2017. Retrieved 3 October 2017.
  16. ^ Socialist International MEMBER PARTIES of the SOCIALIST INTERNATIONAL, accessed 10 June 2012
  17. ^ (in Spanish) COPPPAL, Partidos Miembros Archived 5 June 2014 at the Wayback Machine, accessed 10 June 2012