Venezuela’s Descent into Crisis

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Filling the big shoes of a larger than life leader presents special challenges for leadership succession. Under a larger than life leader, the roles and responsibilities of office likely became entangled with the person’s distinctive style.

Inheriting an office dominated by a personality creates incentives to both emphasize the legacies of the predecessor and proceed very carefully in establishing authority. While this risk-averse strategy has pragmatic appeal, it can also carry a high cost. It restricts the government to a self-reinforcing path. By adhering to a predecessor’s policies, a new leader narrows the menu of options to dated policy choices, which may in turn reduce the opportunities for shaping a transition to a new future. 

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