Alek Boyd eloquently explains why Venezuela can no longer be considered a democracy. The money quote:
It is ironic that the debate about democratic deficit is mentioned in relation to a country that has had plenty of elections in the last 11 years. However, contrary to what Chavez’s apologists argue, many elections do not necessarily mean an abundance of democracy.
Therein lies the “anomaly” of Venezuela. The country has plenty of elections, but where are the consequences?
I would only add one thing to Alek’s post. As Maria Corina Machado said yesterday, giving Chávez power to rule by decree is perfectly allowed by the Constitution. What the current National Assembly has done, though, is grant Chávez powers it cannot give him. It has not only willingly subjected itself to the Executive Power, but it has illegally stripped the incoming National Assembly of its powers too.
No Court in the world would find this to be Constitutional – except for Hugo Chávez’s handpicked Supreme Tribunal, of course. What has happened is a coup d’etat: an elected body has been unwillingly stripped of its powers by another body.
It pains me to agree with the MUD on this one. On this blog, we have long been weary of the hyperbole surrounding Hugo Chávez’s government. We have picked many a fight with windbags who have denounced, time and again, coups of all sorts, coming from the strangest of corners.
But the facts are the facts.
If Hugo Chávez wanted the power to rule by decree, the current National Assembly could have – at most – granted him that power until January 4th, 2011. On January 5th, when the new Assembly is sworn in, he could have asked for an extension. He would not have gotten it, since he does not command the super-majority needed in the new Assembly, but he could have asked. That is how life should be in a democracy.
But that won’t do. He needed 18 months of total power to finish doing whatever the hell he has in mind for our country.
Hence, the coup.