Contempt of Vote

Quico says: If the Chávez regime retains some patina of legitimacy in international circles beyond the know-nothing lefty fringe, that sense arises almost exclusively from one source: its electoral mandate. In our era, the vote is sacred: simply noting that Chávez governs by the will of the people is a powerful legitimating discourse.

But, last Sunday, Chávez showed once again just how shallow his commitment to the electorate’s will really is by naming six of his usual-suspect cabinet ministers to the totally made-up office of “vice-president”. In effect, each vice-president becomes a kind of super-minister with ill-specified new powers over broad areas of policy-making like “territorial development” (Ramírez) and “economic-financial affairs” (Giordani.)

You might mistake this for a bit of (relatively harmless) semantic chicanery until you remember that, in fact, the proposal to create these kinds of vice-presidencies was first put forward in 2007 as part of Chávez’s proposal to reform the constitution (specifically, article 225.) And that proposal was rejected by the electorate via referendum.

So it’s not just that there’s no constitutional basis whatsoever for these appointments, it’s that they’re being carried out in the face of the electorate’s explicit rejection of the idea, expressed through the ballot box less than two years ago.

So much for electoral legitimacy.

In fact, if you follow these things closely, you already know all about Chávez’s only-if-they-vote-right attitude to the electorate’s decisions. The right to elect Caracas’s Metropolitan Mayor belongs to the soberano…but only if they vote for his guy. The voters’ decision on whether we should have vice-presidents is sacred…unless they get it wrong. In that case, Chávez gets to decide.

Which comes down to the same thing. Cuz, after all,