Must be the U.S. constitution he's reading...

In a rare bit of (seemingly) good news for the opposition, President Chávez has decided to veto the Universities Law that the 95% chavista outgoing National Assembly just approved.

Only trouble is, the Venezuelan Constitution doesn’t actually give the president veto power!

I realize it’s quaintly anachronistic to turn to the actual constitutional text to argue a political point in Venezuela these days, but I just think it’s funny: the first political victory the opposition has had in ages just came in the form of…an unconstitutional assertion of presidential power!

(If you’re nerdy enough to be curious, the relevant bit of the constitution is after the jump.)

Artículo 214. El Presidente o Presidenta de la República promulgará la ley dentro de los diez días siguientes a aquél en que la haya recibido. Dentro de ese lapso podrá, con acuerdo del Consejo de Ministros, solicitar a la Asamblea Nacional, mediante exposición razonada, que modifique alguna de las disposiciones de la ley o levante la sanción a toda la ley o parte de ella.

La Asamblea Nacional decidirá acerca de los aspectos planteados por el Presidente o Presidenta de la República, por mayoría absoluta de los diputados y diputadas presentes y le remitirá la ley para la promulgación.

El Presidente o Presidenta de la República debe proceder a promulgar la ley dentro de los cinco días siguientes a su recibo, sin poder formular nuevas observaciones…

For those of you who are not fluent in Bolivarian, the Constitution says that the President can ask the National Assembly to reconsider parts of a law or the entire thing. But if a majority of the National Assembly decides to ratify the law again, the President has to sign it. Chávez has no veto power.

Seriously, am I the last person left who actually reads that thing now and again?

Oh and notice how he can’t actually follow the constitutional procedure because he brilliantly left his “veto” decision until the very last day of the old assembly’s term! In other words, the Assembly that passed the law will not be the same Assembly that will approve it.

I know I’m not allowed to express shock at this sort of thing. But it is funny.