Bureaucratic Politicization, Partisan Attachments, and the Limits of Public Agency Legitimacy: The Venezuelan Armed Forces under Chavismo
Polga-Hecimovich, John. 2019. "Bureaucratic Politicization, Partisan Attachments, and the Limits of Public Agency Legitimacy: the Venezuelan Armed Forces under Chavismo." Latin American Research Review 52 (2):476-98.
23 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2019
Date Written: June 25, 2019
Which factors determine support for the armed forces? What is the effect of agency politicization on confidence? Existing studies, which draw largely from bureaucratically neutral militaries, find that interpersonal trust and demographic variables play significant roles in determining public confidence in the armed forces. I argue that this is different for a politicized agency. A loss of bureaucratic neutrality activates voters’ partisan attachments, inducing individuals to judge the agency on the basis of their ties to the governing party or leader. Using survey data from Venezuela, I show that government evaluation has a salient and bifurcated effect on respondents’ perceptions of their armed forces. Respondents sympathetic to the governing leader are more likely to have a favorable view of the military while those identifying as opposition are more likely to have a negative view. The results suggest that politicization of public agencies may impose an upper limit on public support regardless of institutional performance, undermine their representativeness and legitimacy, and weaken their mandates.
Keywords: Politicization, bureaucratic neutrality, partisan attachments, armed forces, public opinion, Venezuela
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