Democratic Action (Venezuela)

Democratic Action

Acción Democrática
PresidentIsabel Carmona de Serra
Vice PresidentEdgar Zambrano
General secretaryHenry Ramos Allup
FounderRomulo Betancourt
Founded13 September 1941; 78 years ago (1941-09-13)
HeadquartersLa Florida, Caracas, Venezuela
IdeologySocial democracy[1][2]
Venezuelan nationalism[3][4]
Political positionCenter-left[5]
International affiliationSocialist International
Regional affiliationCOPPPAL
Colors     White (official)
Seats in the National Assembly
25 / 167
4 / 23
State legislatures
17 / 237
0 / 335

Democratic Action (Spanish: Acción Democrática, AD) is a Venezuelan social democratic political party established in 1941.

The party and its antecedents played an important role in the early years of Venezuelan democracy and led the government during Venezuela's first democratic period (1945–1948). After an intervening decade of dictatorship (1948–1958) saw AD excluded from power, four presidents came from Acción Democrática from the 1960s to the 1990s during the two-party system with Copei.

In the 2015 legislative elections held on 6 December, 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: it is the second largest party in opposition to Maduro. The current General Secretary Of Democratic Action is Henry Ramos Allup.

In July 2018, AD left the Democratic Unity Roundtable opposition coalition.[6]


Early years[]

The party and its antecedents played an important role in the early years of Venezuelan democracy. 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, Acción Democrática was founded by Betancourt and others. These included Rómulo Gallegos, Andrés Eloy Blanco, Luis Beltrán Prieto, Juan Oropeza, Luis Lander, Raúl Ramos, Medardo Medina, Enrique H. Marín, Rafael Padrón, Fernando Peñalver, Luis Augusto Dubuc, César Hernández, José V. Hernández and Ricardo Montilla. Gallegos was a highly prestigious writer, the author of the iconic novel, Doña Bárbara (1929), among several others, while Andrés Eloy Blanco was a celebrated Venezuelan poet and a witty humoristic writer.

After the October 1945 revolution, Betancourt was President for a time, until Rómulo Gallegos won the 1947 Venezuelan presidential election (generally believed to be the first free and fair elections in Venezuela). Gallegos governed until overthrown by Marcos Pérez Jiménez in the 1948 Venezuelan coup d'état. The 1945–48 period is known as the trienio. Many of its founders and early members went into exile during the dictatorship of Marcos Pérez Jiménez, and returned for the restoration of democracy in 1958.

Fourth Republic: 1959-1999[]

After the restoration of democracy, Betancourt won the 1958 elections comfortably, and AD joined the 1958 Punto Fijo Pact. The 1963 elections saw a solid victory for Raúl Leoni, and AD also won in 1973 (Carlos Andrés Pérez), 1983 (Jaime Lusinchi), and 1988 (Carlos Andrés Pérez again). From 1958 to 1999 only three presidential elections were lost (to COPEI, in 1968 and 1978) and one of those was only lost due to a major split in AD.


The 1968 presidential election was shaped by the split of Democratic Action, with a substantial leftist faction breaking away to form the Movimiento Electoral del Pueblo (MEP). The split happened after Luis Beltrán Prieto Figueroa won the 1967 AD primary election, only to see his nomination overturned by the reformist-social democrat Rómulo Betancourt faction, in favour of Gonzalo Barrios, considering Prieto too far left.[7] 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.[7] The result was that the 1968 election was the first time AD lost power through an election, when COPEI's Rafael Caldera won 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 engagement in armed struggle against the AD government meant the split posed rather less of an electoral problem than the later MEP split.[citation needed]

Chavez-Maduro era: 1999-present[]

The Punto Fijo Pact collapsed in the early 1990s in the face of a severe economic and political crisis, culminating in the impeachment of the AD president Carlos Andrés Pérez for corruption, and the election in 1993 of former COPEI leader Rafael Caldera on a National Convergence electoral coalition platform. Caldera's failure to resolve the economic crisis created the political environment for the 1998 election of Hugo Chávez.

AD posters during a rally in support of RCTV in 2007

At 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.[8]

For the 2010 and 2015 elections, AD was part of the Democratic Unity Roundtable. In the 2015 elections where the Roundtable took the National Assembly, AD won 25 seats, which it contributed to the Roundtable's 109 seat majority. The Roundtable parties boycotted the 2017 elections to the Constituent Assembly and participated in an unofficial referendum against its formation.[9]

In July 2018, AD left the Democratic Unity Roundtable opposition coalition, citing "operative problems inside the organisation" and the difficulties to elect the new secretary general of the coalition.[6]

The trade union confederation CTV is closely linked to AD. AD is a member of the Socialist International,[10] and a member of COPPPAL.[11]

Acción Democrática's current Secretary General is Henry Ramos.

Venezuelan Presidents from AD[]

President Dates in office Form of entry Occupation
Rómulo Betancourt, 1946.JPG Rómulo Betancourt 1945–1948 Coup d'état Politician
Rómulo Gallegos 1948-1948 Direct elections Writer / Novelist
RB 1975.jpg Rómulo Betancourt 1959–1964 Direct elections Politician
Raúl Leoni 1964–1969 Direct elections Lawyer
Carlos Andrés Pérez - World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 1989.jpg Carlos Andrés Pérez 1974–1979 Direct elections Politician
Lusinchi 89.JPG Jaime Lusinchi 1984–1989 Direct elections Physician
Carlos Andrés Pérez - World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 1989.jpg Carlos Andrés Pérez 1989–1993 Direct elections Politician
Ramón J. Velásquez, 2009.jpg Ramón José Velásquez 1993–1994 Interim president Historian


  1. ^ Lamb, Peter; Docherty, James C. (2006), Historical Dictionary or Socialism (Second ed.), Scarecrow Press, p. 100
  2. ^ Smilde, David (2011), "Introduction: Participation, Politics and Culture – Emerging Fragments of Venezuela's Bolivarian Democracy", Venezuela's Bolivarian Democracy: Participation, Politics, and Culture under Chávez, Duke University Press, p. 5
  3. ^ Rivas, Darlene (2002), Missionary Capitalist: Nelson Rockefeller in Venezuela, University of North Carolina Press, p. 108
  4. ^ Derham, Michael (2010), Politics in Venezuela: Explaining Hugo Chávez, Peter Lang, p. 155
  5. ^ Buckman, Robert T. (2012), The World Today Series, 2012: Latin America, Stryker-Post, p. 366
  6. ^ a b "Ramos Allup confirmó la salida de Acción Democrática de la MUD". El Nacional (in Spanish). 5 July 2018. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  7. ^ 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
  8. ^ "Opposition parties pull out of Venezuela elections". The Irish Times. Retrieved 3 October 2017.
  9. ^ "Clashes as new body meets in Venezuela". BBC News. 5 August 2017. Retrieved 3 October 2017.
  10. ^ Socialist International MEMBER PARTIES of the SOCIALIST INTERNATIONAL, accessed 10 June 2012
  11. ^ (in Spanish) COPPPAL, Partidos Miembros Archived 5 June 2014 at the Wayback Machine, accessed 10 June 2012

External links[]