What can a 2/3 Majority in the National Assembly do?

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What does the Venezuelan Constitution say about a majority of two thirds in the National Assembly, which the opposition is poised to win?

Aside from the typical things you can do with a simple majority (approve laws, call people to testify before the AN, etc.) there are superpowers only a two-thirds majority has. (Spoiler alerts, a good many of these require us to jump through some hoops.)

I’m no lawyer, so here’s my layman read of what they are:

  • Initiate a referendum on special matters, one whose results are mandatory, including one to revoke the President’s mandate (Art. 73).
  • Decide that a legislator has to be separated from their post due to some grave circumstances (Art. 187).
  • Create or eliminate congressional committees – for example, a special committee to investigate drug smuggling (just a thought … Art. 193).
  • Approve new organic laws (macro laws regulating large, important issues) or modify existing ones (things such as the labor laws, or the law regulating elections – another though! … Art. 203). Could this be the way we free political prisoners?
  • Remove Supreme Tribunal justices, after the Citizens’ Power (the Prosecutor General, the Comptroller, and the Defender of the People) have decided something really nasty has gone down (there are major hoops to be jumped there … Art. 265)
  • Select the members of the Citizens’ Power when their time is up (more hoops … Art. 279)
  • Select the members of the Elections Board, as long as they are selected according to process (hoops!), and remove them as long as the Supreme Tribunal decides they should be removed (tangled up in hoops … Art. 296)
  • Reform the Constitution (this one has no hoops! … Art. 343)
  • Initiate the process through which a Constitutional Assembly is called (no hoops, but unlikely … Art. 348)

What does this mean?

The process through which we can give Venezuela clean institutions (courts, prosecutors , etc.) has to go through a Constitutional reform. Without that, they have us jumping through hoops, blocking us at every turn, thanks to the control of one power over another. We will face death by a thousand cuts.

What do you think?

88 COMMENTS

  1. It’s unlikely the MUD will go for the jugular in its first chance. They should try to clear the road from obstacles in the TSJ and CNE. They need to make sure that once they decide to throw their best punch, it can’t be (legally) blocked.

    So, they should start by freeing the political prisoners. Then, do two things simultaneously. First, show that you have good ideas on how to improve people’s lives with laws targeting the economic crisis, add social measures (e.g. give people in Mision Viviendas their title deeds), and go after the government’s corruption and lack of transparency. Second, prepare the way for a knock-out punch, whether it’s a referendum, a constitutional reform or assembly.

    • Agreed, 100%.
      First thing to do is prove that things can be dramatically improved in direct ways that people can experience daily. Fuck shortages and the exchange distortions.

    • Yes, political prisoners first, then I like your idea “social measures (e.g. give people in Mision Viviendas their title deeds)”. This is a great idea which will lead to a way where we can liberate this frozen capital. See Hernando de Soto and his Mystery of Capital.

      • I would like to go ahead and make this question, does the president have the veto power? If so, then it could be very difficult for the opposition to make all the things you are suggesting, am I right?

    • if such an Amnesty law is passed, watch Chavismo following a similar path that Castro did in 1980 when Cubans inundated the Peruvian embassy wanting to get out of Cuba. Castro released not only refugees in the Mariel Boatlift, but prisoners and mental hospital patients.For every political prisoner released, look for a number of pranes to be also released.

  2. I may be over-simplifying this, but so long as the TSJ can declare any action or law passed by the new Assembly unconstitutional, the Opposition’s hands will be tied. Now, if they arrange some sort of agreement with the TSJ that lets them do their work and gradually phase out the rabidly loyal Chavista judges, that would be one thing. If no accord is possible, it seems the only path is a Constitutional Assembly, which would allow them to fill the court with new judges.

    • That may be true, which is why a reform of the Constitution regulating the TSJ’s interference is the “nuclear option”, right?

      Serán suicidas esos tipejos…

      • I guess that is the BIG question. Will Chavismo negotiate or go down with the ship?

        But, in the end, the existing judges were chosen for their loyalty, and not for their legal acumen. If Venezuela is to truly reform its political culture, the TSJ will need the very best legal minds Venezuela can offer, not just the ones who are politically like-minded. I hope that the Opposition understands that in order to remain in power, they will need a TSJ that actually prevents them from over-reaching.

    • This is where the horse trading is going to come into play.

      Also, it would be good to look at the Comunas Law they passed a couple years ago (when they thought Capriles could take Maduro out). If I recall correctly, the Assembly can likely be bypassed by the Comunas.

      Either way, the opposition should not, or cannot, just start dictating terms and doing away with things a la Carmona.

      We didn’t win because the oppo is loved, THEY lost because they suck.

      Big difference.

    • As far as I know the TSJ magistrates have not been ‘retired’ yet. Most of them have their periods overextended. If the current AN can’t select new magistrates then the new opposition AN has the opportunity to appoint new magistrates and tilt the balance. Hopefully that can happen!

  3. 2/3 isnt official, yet…I’m still anxious. The final ballot hasn’t been announced. And we’re talking about an electronic electoral system considered one of “the best in the world”. A day later and nothing to show for it. A day later and no final ballot. The opposition has won, by a whopper, I’m deeply concerned about recognition.
    In all honesty I have been celebrating, but very cautiously.

      • In the website, the last update of results is time-stamped 6 Dec. 2015,
        23:45. It shows fewer seats called than in the First Bulletin, from late last night. Are you sure the VV clip got it right?

  4. when will the results be known? it seems strange that today’s headlines does not include any information about continued coverage regarding this news. isn’t this an acceptance of the governments stalling tactits ?

      • thanks for that. i dont understand why the opposition is celebrating as much as they are when the arguably biggest part of their victory is very much on the table? a simple majority, while symbolically sgnificant , would not allow them to negotiate with the chavistas in any significant way.
        #countingunhatchedchickens?

  5. Can we talk about how huge of a setback this is for chavismo? Not only because it grants superpowers to the MUD, but because it makes the PSUV look truly weak. Interesting times ahead…

    • I think many of us cannot quite grasp this. As I was trying to explain to people last night, non-chavistas have been through a huge number of disappointments over the last sixteen years.

  6. The Comptroller is a substitute and the CNE are also filling in their positions because the PSUV did not have the votes in the AN to elect new ones.

    Furthermore, a bunch of TSJ members are/were (?) retiring just a weeks ago. There were problems with the postulation committee, so there’s that.

    I’m not a lawyer either, but I think there is room for maneuver there.

    But I think in the end, it’s all about negotiating. Perhaps let sleeping dogs lie as in exchange for sensible economic measures/policies from the government? Better Maduro paying the price for his mismanagement than the MUD, I guess…

    • These guys have never been in a position where they’ve had to enter into meaningful or critical negotiations to get anything passed. This applies specially to Maduro who is a place-holder president for the immortal Chavez, and thus not a skillful politician capable of sitting down with Allup, or whoever. Don’t know much about Arreaza, and I wonder if Diosdado (who is an educated Army officer) will be given more an an executive role in this new phase of the revolución. Who else is equipped and experienced to negotiate for them? Chaderton?

      • I know… and that’s my biggest concern. I read a couple years ago a biography of a politician that witnessed first hand the Weimar Republic, Erwin Planck. The political scene at the time was fractious and belligerent. There was no will to negotiate at all.

        The government was in complete disarray, which eventually led to economic and political collapse, a perfect setting for the rise of the Nazi Party.

        Let’s not focus on the rise of Nazis, but on the former: economic and political collapse. Sadly, I believe that if chavismo is unable to deal and compromise, Venezuela’s government will collapse.

        Hopefully some of the semi-retired chavistas (shady JVR, diente-roto Rodriguez Araque?) will offer their dubious service so chavismo and opposition can strike a deal.

  7. Social media is rife with rumors about second thoughts about last nights loss by Cabello (including some comments here on CC).

    The CNE has not given the final results.

    The Chavistas bigwigs are eerily quiet.

    Sorry for diverting the subject.

  8. “including one to revoke the President’s mandate (Art. 73).” -> No, only by citizen’s signatures (art. 72)

    “The process through which we can give Venezuela clean institutions (courts, prosecutors , etc.) has to go through a Constitutional reform. Without that, they have us jumping through hoops, blocking us at every turn, thanks to the control of one power over another. We will face death by a thousand cuts.”

    In fact, this is a good thing: by design, one-time –even extra-large– majority cannot take control over all State institutions (unless calling the people’s will via Constitutional assembly). 2/3 majority is not the kind of majority that can normally be elected, so some consensus was intended by Constituents.

    The 2005 forfeit caused the PSUV’s take over of all institutions with harmful and very long term consequences (for me, the worst opposition mistake). Those consequences were obviously unforeseen by people deciding withdrawal. Human nature being predictable enough, it is dangerous to let anyone, even the good guys, have absolute power. So, I think it’s better, in the long term, to get some consensus even with people who took unfair advantage in the past.

  9. A 2/3 is a game changer, strategically speaking. I honestly never thought it was possible. I guess these guys are dumber than I thought!

    My first reaction, knee-jerk out of my mouth when I heard 2/3 yesterday was “cayo el gobierno.”

    With a 2/3, I think the oppo would be justified in going for the jugular, full take-over while they’re weak, while the sleeper chavistas are still dazed and demoralized. Then the next year would be about the oppo proving themselves through economic sanity and civic inclutionism.

    I say go for the haymaker!

    Carmonazo 2! (without the shrill Cafetal aunt overtones)

  10. I think these elections redeem and “le da la razon a” those hateful businessmen uncles who kept saying “this thing won’t be over until we hit rock bottom.”

    It really was that simple, in the end.

    • not to be such a pessimist but this isnt rock bottom. Even if this is the first sign of a coming change, rock bottom will be next year.

      • In political terms, it’s rock bottom. The long term treatments that we will need include pain killers, and the MUD has enough smart young politicians who have learned from chavismo to know the importance of the pain killers and how to apply them.

        • Rock bottom, in addiction treatment terms, is when the shittyness of your situation reaches a point that your mind can no longer tolerate, and you take drastic action.

          The idea is that it wasn’t some messianic leader or supreme strategy that was going to get us out of this but the simple unacceptability of a certain arguably arbitrary point of degeneration.

    • A mi esto me huele a gato encerrado…. wtf is happening right now? The CNE site has some weird numbers that do not even match the first results announced, nothing on vtv or aporrea, only sporadic tweets (last from Lilian tintori was 6 hours ago and one from capriles 3 hojas ago). One random vídeo of Venevision talking about “updated” numbers from CNE (112 seats) but no trace of where the update came from… Could there be the much feared self-coup in the works? Or are they just trying to steal the missing 13 seats?

    • And the plot thickens…

      “Cerca de las 8:00 pm el CNE entregó finalmente la base de datos de resultados deln#6D a los partidos políticos.”

      “En el boletín de resultados que entregó el CNE a partidos se indica que MUD tiene 106 diputados, Psuv 55 aun faltan 6 por definir.”

      “Oposición asegura que tiene 112 diputados asegurados y podría llegar a 116.”

      source is https://twitter.com/puzkas

  11. OK, was there a problem with the site or what? Here I try again:
    I know it is customary for the leader of the first party to lead the National Assembly but it would be so cool if it were a female engineer from the same party…particularly if good in rhetoric.

    Anyway: Borges would do.

    I think one of the key things the oppo does have to do as soon as possible is try to recover some media outlet (I am sure the AN TV will pass now to some other institution before 5 January) and bring about – officially or not – a demand for ministers to be questioned in Congress. What I mean by demand is this:
    ask time after time through all media and let others spread the word that ministers should be questioned in public about corruption affairs.
    And let’s see.

  12. I think it’s hilarious that on VTV website it shows a picture of Tiby reading the results (with two frowning ladies next to her) and the headline is “Ultra Rightists Win 99 Deputies”. Has there ever been a situation (maybe Poland 1989?) where an authoritarian government with a large state propaganda arm ever had to report that the opposition it always vilifies absolutely trounced it in an election?

    What are they supposed to say next? “Vast majority of population are now traitors to Bolivar and the country”

    • Back in early 1973, there was a congressional election in Chile. The Allende socialists got 43% of the vote, and the center+right opposition 57%, and a clear majority of the seats.

      The socialist (government?) newspaper headline the next morning was “The people 43%, the mummies 57%”. (“Mummies” was the Allendist tag for their allegedly reactionary opponents.)

  13. Also saw theVenevision clip and did not like the smell of it. Until lucena is forced to go on the record and declare the results of the outstading 22 ridings the game is still open.

    Now, really when will it count, as you say once the new asamblea is stated (4 weeks forth) and the first supermajority decision is presented to the forum, only then we will see if the bancada de la unidad, as “eelected” yesterday, performs in unity.

    i fear there is still too much time between today (assuming no gato encerrado, and then for the chavista dark forces to induce turncoats and talanqueras…

    This assumes of course the oficialismo remains glued together which is something i do not expect. The long faces of the psicopaths rodriguez and Cabello last night were a big tell.

    Cuban handlers obviously traded their venezuelian puppets for somthing else in the US/ Vatican/ Canada talks. The Unidad side has the ball in its courts and we all hope its up to the historic challenge to not mess it up.

    trying weeks ahead.

  14. Okay, so it seems to me that after the amnesty law everyone seems to be clamoring for, the next thing to do would be to reshape the Citizen’s Power through it’s 3 components: Fiscalía, Contraloría, and Defensoría.

    From the text above, apparently the heads of those institutions can only be replaced by the AN when their times are up. So let’s see.

    Contraloría: Manuel Galindo current term 2015-2022 –> nothing we can do here?
    Fiscalía: Luisa Ortega Díaz, current term: 2014-2021 –> nothing we can do here?
    Desfensoría: Tarek William Saab, current term: 2014-2021 –> nothing we can do here?

    Constitutional lawyers, help out. Can these three be removed from their posts before their terms are up without help from the TSJ?

  15. considering they are taking so long in a ¨very technified system¨, is it possible is a negotiation underway?

    this article ¨2/3¨ makes clear the big difference between the 111 seat and the next one, it could mean a lot for the next years of the country,

    there is a little obvious that the mesas started to close at 6 pm at 8 pm almost all of them were closed, the data then sent to Caracas in just minutes (electronic system), then at 23.45 the cne web page post its first bulletin with more than 96% of votes, so, in less than 6 hours they totalized more than 96% of votes,

    almost 24 hours later, they haven´t end the remaining 3%? so again what are they waiting?

    • “almost 24 hours later, they haven´t end the remaining 3%? so again what are they waiting?” My exact question What are they waiting for?

      Reply

      • If this were South Texas in 1948 [LBJ won TX Demo Primary by 187 votes] or Chicago 1960, where JFK won Chicago and thus the state of Illinois “with a little help from his friends” [as Mayor Daley put it], they would be waiting for some ballot boxes to be “found.”

    • Try to be on NarcoCabello’s or Maduro’s shoes for a second, what would you do? Soon, the Interpol will be after them, they can’t be very vulnerable in their headquarters (Venezuela) . Hell, I would postpone the results for 1 year or more.

  16. It looks like there is going to be a real struggle in the coming months between the governmental branches (los poderes gubernamentales)… It will be interesting to see the Legislature locked into conflict with the executive and the judiciary.

  17. amnesty for political prisioners should be the first thing.

    Second thing is not move to quickly. Stay calm and don’t talk too much is the best strategy in times of change. It took me ages to learn in conflictive projects and I am still not good at it.
    When Juan Cristobal critizised the Chua Torealba after first results speech as boring, I was thinking that this indicated that maybe Torealba has simply chosen the right strategy.
    After winning a battle, the most stupid thing is to overshoot.
    Chavistas simply aren’t used to loose elections. Additionaly the regional environment appears much more pro ven oppo after elections in Argentina, change of president in Uruguay and empty coffers of ven Government.

    The most letal weapon to end communism in Eastern Europe was patience and discipline of the opposition.

    • Lethal and disciplined, but kind of slow, right? Half a century is way too much time, I believe most here want to be alive to see their demise.

      • It took like 4 month from opening of the hungarian – austrian border to the fall of Berlin Wall. But during that 4 month a lot of patience and discipline.

    • I agree with Lemmy. Of course, there hasn’t been such a dramatic domino effect as the other countries around might be more or less autocratic and dysfunctional but not outright dictatorships.

      Sustainable development takes time. Because we haven’t wanted to take the price and make the mental effort of planning, we keep repeating vicious circles in Latin America.

    • The lethal end to communism was simply the Soviet Union signaling it would no longer use military force to uphold its puppet states.

  18. Where’s mr. Kleptozuela aka 55/45 aka mud and psuv are the same scourge aka we have to take the streets aka mr. Lee Kuan Yew?

  19. Canaimita Madness won 8 circuits, and still could steal 17 more seats:

    psuv won 24 seats in circuits but at least a third were really too close:

    Yaracuy´s C1: less than 4% (4k)

    Yaracuy´s C3: less than 7% (7k)

    Táchira´s C3: GPP (psuv) 37k, MUD 33k, candidate supported by María Corina Machado: 22k (60% of votes to opp but lost)

    Sucre´s C1: GPP 60k vs MUD 58K, candidate supported by MAS and other opps: 6k

    Monagas´ C2: GPP by less than 4%

    Delta´C1: GPP 25k vs MUD 22k

    Cojedes´ C1: GPP by less than 3%

    Apure´s C3: GPP by less than 5%

    so yesterday CNE could go MUD: 72, PSUV: 16, Canaimita Madness: 8 (and counting),

    • Carabobo´s C4: Govt won by 2k (invalid votes 12k)

      Apure´s C1: Govt by less than 3%

      Guárico´s C1: Govt by less than 2% took both seats

      Guárico´s C2: Govt by 4% beat Rummy Olivo (cne´s webpage names her Rummy but in the tarjeton Romualda)

      Guárico´s C3: Govt by 1% (300 votes meanwhile 8k invalid votes)

      Lara´s C2: Govt by less than 5% both seats,

      total seats from circuits:

      Opp: 81, Govt: 16, Canaimita: 16

  20. Art. 296 of the Constitution says that “Los o las integrantes del Consejo Nacional Electoral durarán siete años en sus funciones y serán elegidos o elegidas por separado: los tres postulados o postuladas por la sociedad civil al inicio de cada período de la Asamblea Nacional, y los otros dos a la mitad del mismo. Thus, one of the first duties of the new Assembly is to elect the three members of the Electoral Council postulated by the civil society, according to the legal procedure. I don{t know which is the postulation origin of Tibisay, but if she was originally postulated by the Poser Ciudadano, she will stay at least until half the five years period of the Assembly begining on January 5/2016. Am I right?

  21. according to Art 296 three members must be elected by the Assembly at the begining of the legislative term. Thus D´Amelio and Hernandez will be replaced if and only they were appointed by the “civil society” circa five years ago.

  22. Una corrección (sorry for the spanish): la Constitución permite que, si el Presidente de la República no le da el “ejecútese” a las leyes en los tiempos o con las formas señaladas, el Presidente de la AN, y sus Vicepresidentes, puedan promulgarlas. El veto de Venezuela es imperfecto (no es definitivo, heredado de la CN 1961) y, aparte, no hay “pocket-veto”.***

    En realidad en ese aspecto la máquina legislativa venezolana es bastante más eficaz que en otros países (que si EEUU)… Más con el poder de la ley habilitante que, gracias a esta hipotética mayoría, ya no se podrá usar en estos cinco años (teóricamente) 🙂

    ***Artículo 216: Cuando el Presidente o Presidenta de la República no promulgare la ley en los términos señalados, el Presidente o Presidenta y los dos Vicepresidentes o Vicepresidentas de la Asamblea Nacional procederán a su promulgación sin perjuicio de la responsabilidad en que aquél o aquélla incurra por su omisión.

  23. Puedo pensar que la oppo (de obtener mayoría calificada) puede amenazar al TSJ con aprobar una enmienda al Título Quinto, Capítulo Tercero (del Poder Judicial) que obligue a la renovación (como crear una Corte Constitucional o fijar el número de magistrados a doce o qué se yo) del Supremo.

    Algo al estilo de FDR al intentar pasar una Judiciary Act que ampliaría el número de magistrados de la Corte Suprema para que le aprobaran sus reformas del New Deal… Solo que los magistrados cambiaron de opinión antes de cambiar la ley. 😀

  24. I’m late to the party but will throw in my .02 anyway. The political prisoners are important and their situation is a basic HR issue, but I wouldn’t put it in the top of my priority list. Don’t get me wrong, I would get the Amnesty Law process started but in terms of media exposure and political debate I would place it mid field. Let’s face it, many Chavistas that voted for MUD couldn’t care less about LL, the students and “abstract” liberties and HR protection. They voted against an economic policy that impoverishes them. National Assembly heated debates and headlines should go to the issues that matter to them or you risk losing support while we try to jump the aforementioned hoops in the Parliament.

  25. only 6 seats to go and Opp stands at 106, so basically it will need all of them,

    2/3 jeopardized after a long wait, a long wait like the ones at the grocery store, after a big wait, always comeback short,

  26. Im new to this group but an avid Vennie watcher. Anyone have a sense of the reaction function of Chauvismo following this loss? On one hand the fact that Meduro conceded quickly is positive, but his reaction to the Amnesty law indicates we are setting up for a fight. Meanwhile the military reaction is very positive and indicates they are open to negotiate with the opposition leaders, and see the writing on the wall.

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