Breaking it down

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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.

1 COMMENT

  1. still beating a dead horse? as i pointed out yesterday our constitution should have just one article: Whatever the hell CH wants. and be done with all the nonsense of all these laws, CH in 18 is gonna give up his ruling by decree? Dream on people, he made it that long so he can either ask for an extension later o be so entrenched in power, it will not make a difference if he has them or not because everything will be under his thumb one way or another…..democratically!

    • And, long before 18 months go by, he will have “inhabilitated” or disabled enough opposition deputies to have his supermajority in the AN again.

  2. Thanks for linking Juan, I would add something to your quote “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.”

    You may see the act of granting powers to rule by decree beyond 5 January 2011, as the acid test for our country’s nascent dictatorship. However, I would like to remind you of Antonio Ledezma, and other instances where electoral results of 2007, and 2008, have been completely disregarded by the sitting assembly. Ergo democracy didn’t perish with the habilitante, it did much before that…

    • Oh, I agree. My only quibble is that the Ledezma case has some gray areas. The Alcaldia Metropolitana has always been, in my view, an ill-defined adefesio with little Constitutional clarity. The National Assembly, on the other hand, is easier to explain, and a much clearer example.

      But there’s no doubt in my mind that we crossed the proverbial rubicon years ago.

  3. Juan Cristobal,

    Ley Habilitante is a law, so it can be abroged by an abrogatory referendum.

    Referemdum convocation is very easy thing to do for the MUD: 10% of electors for the whole law, and 5% of electors for any Presidential decree.

    It is far easier than to call for 350.

    Artículo 74. Serán sometidas a referendo, para ser abrogadas total o parcialmente, las leyes cuya abrogación fuere solicitada por iniciativa de un número no menor del diez por ciento de los electores inscritos en el registro civil y electoral o por el Presidente o Presidenta de la República en Consejo de Ministros.

    También podrán ser sometidos a referendo abrogatorio los decretos con fuerza de ley que dicte el Presidente o Presidenta de la República en uso de la atribución prescrita en el numeral 8 del artículo 236 de esta Constitución, cuando fuere solicitado por un número no menor del cinco por ciento de los electores y electoras inscritos en el registro civil y electoral.

    Para la validez del referendo abrogatorio será indispensable la concurrencia del cuarenta por ciento de los electores y electoras inscritos en el registro civil y electoral.

    No podrán ser sometidas a referendo abrogatorio las leyes de presupuesto, las que establezcan o modifiquen impuestos, las de crédito público y las de amnistía, así como aquellas que protejan, garanticen o desarrollen los derechos humanos y las que aprueben tratados internacionales.

    No podrá hacerse más de un referendo abrogatorio en un período constitucional para la misma materia.

    • So, any decree that comes from la Habilitante has to be called with 5% of the voters.

      Here is article 236, number 8 that it refers to:

      “Artículo 236. Son atribuciones y obligaciones del Presidente o Presidenta de la República:

      1. Cumplir y hacer cumplir esta Constitución y la ley.
      2. Dirigir la acción del Gobierno.
      3. Nombrar y remover al Vicepresidente Ejecutivo o Vicepresidenta Ejecutiva, nombrar y remover los Ministros o Ministras.
      4. Dirigir las relaciones exteriores de la República y celebrar y ratificar los tratados, convenios o acuerdos internacionales.
      5. Dirigir las Fuerza Armada Nacional en su carácter de Comandante en Jefe, ejercer la suprema autoridad jerárquica de ella y fijar su contingente.
      6. Ejercer el mando supremo de la Fuerza Armada Nacional, promover sus oficiales a partir del grado de coronel o coronela o capitán o capitana de navío, y nombrarlos o nombrarlas para los cargos que les son privativos.
      7. Declarar los estados de excepción y decretar la restricción de garantías en los casos previstos en esta Constitución.
      8. Dictar, previa autorización por una ley habilitante, decretos con fuerza de ley.”

  4. Worse yet: The Republic is DEAD.

    “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.”

    There is no Court in Venezuela where citizens could challenge this monstrosity successfully.

  5. The referendo abrogatorio looks tempting. We know, however, the electoral council we have. When Ledesma wanted to call a referendum on some bill, the CNE used a legal subterfuge to say he didn’t have that prerogative.

    Plus, laws concerning things like taxes and human rights cannot be voted on. I could really use some help finding this. I think its in CNE’s reglamento on referenda

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