Academics point to several factors as “triggers” of popular mobilizations. Latin American researchers Fabiana Machado, Carlos Scartascini, and Mariano Tommasi find that where institutions are strong, they serve as mechanisms for channeling people’s frustrations. On the contrary, where institutions lack credibility, people take to the streets to vent their anger. They find that people do so regardless of the strength of individual affiliation to political parties or their relative political extremism.
Obviously, Venezuela’s institutions are largely seen as lacking credibility, at least by a significant portion of the populace. Therefore, why aren’t people hitting the streets like they are in Brazil, Turkey, or Egypt? If Nicolás Maduro is seen as illegitimate, why is he still there?
Loyola University political scientist Christopher Martínez has looked at the reasons why presidential regimes fall. He says that “presidebilismo” — a term coined from the combination of the Spanish words for weak, “presidencialismo” and “débil,” — is particularly prevalent in Latin America, a region with a long tradition of presidents falling thanks to the pressure of popular movements.
Martínez claims that presidents that fall to popular pressure tend to have a low share of the vote in legislatures. They also happen to preside over slow-growing economies, and suffer from a particularly acute bout of political scandals.
None of these factors seem to be present in Venezuela. The current government has a strong majority in the National Assembly, and legislative roadblocks are virtually nonexistent. And while the economy is suffering from acute shortages, it seems to be growing — barely, but just enough to stave off most protests.