The Bolivarian Spring: What are the Possibilities for Regime Change in Venezuela?

Based on the rational choice theory, this essay develops a theoretical approach to explain how an individual's expected utility of protesting is affected by the probability of having a new government, together with the expected costs, expected benefits, and the probability of retributive consequences for protesting. The essay argues that the probability of having a new government is positively correlated with the opposition's ability to coordinate. By modeling how these variables interact, this essay revises the concept of "threshold", or point where the expected net benefits exceed the expected costs of joining a rebellion. The concepts of "bandwagon" and "reverse bandwagon effect," introduced by traditional models of collective behavior, are integrated to explain the dynamics of a revolution and how popular disaffection may lead to regime change. The resulting theoretical framework is then applied to analyze the unexpected escalation in the number of protests and the movement's subsequent dissolution that took place in Venezuela during the first months of 2014.

Gustavo Adolfo Vargas Victoria
October 01, 2014