“PSUV will challenge the election of 22 deputies,” MUD says.

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MUD members gave a press conference today to confirm a rumor that has been going around since last week. Apparently, the electoral chamber of Venezuela’s highest court (the TSJ), was pulled from their Christmas break to receive a request from PSUV members challenging the election of 22 opposition deputies elected for parliament on December 6th.

Chuo Torrealba called it a “suicide measure” from the government party.

If the TSJ annuls the election of these deputies, a new electoral process must be called to replace them. In order for this to happen, the TSJ must first admit the request and appoint a judge to handle it. Let’s see if they will rush it.

According to Torrealba the request was filed and numbered.

A MUD source told Crónica Uno that the argument of the challenge was the large amount of null votes in the districts where these deputies were elected.

This statement comes at a moment of high tension in Venezuela as the lame-duck AN is currently holding extraordinary sessions to ensure PSUV control over the judiciary for the following term.

It feels like there will be no space for aguinaldos and hallacas these coming days. At least not for CC’s underpaid intern.

47 COMMENTS

    • See half-empty, the new progressive orthodoxy does not allow you to use derogatory terms for historically oppressed people. So what you said (I cannot repeat it because i will be rebuked) but terms like gringo which is used extensively are OK.

      Even President Obama had something to say about in NPR two days ago:

      “As I’ve said before, I do think that there have been times on college campuses where I get concerned that the unwillingness to hear other points of view can be as unhealthy on the left as on the right, and that, you know …

      INSKEEP: Meaning listen to people that you might initially think are bigoted or …

      OBAMA: Yes, there have been times where you start seeing on college campuses students protesting somebody like the director of the IMF or Condi Rice speaking on a campus because they don’t like what they stand for. Well, feel free to disagree with somebody, but don’t try to just shut them up.”

  1. Let’s see… a little quick arithmetic…

    112 – 22 = 90

    90 / 167 * 100 = 54%

    If they manage to make this stick, forget the 2/3 or even 3/5 majority. It leaves us with a bare simple majority, and only 7 deputies away from losing even that.

    Ah, well… I suppose we always knew that they weren’t going down without a fight.

    • No, they don’t even need to replace those deputies with PSUVistas. All they need to do is to prevent those 22 Opposition deputies from being sworn in. Then the MUD will only have a simple majority of the whole Assembly (167 seats). They can keep the challenge tied up in the courts as long as they like. Without the super majority, the Opposition will not be able to do anything to change the makeup of the TSJ.

  2. The government/PSUV sees the 2/3 majority as more than an existential threat, they see it (correctly) as their certain end. My guess is that they believe that whatever it’s the political / international / perception cost of shaving a few deputies off of MUD, it’s worth trying. They would rather bear that cost and see what happens, than have MUD with the finger on the trigger of a referendum or constitutional assembly, both of which would inevitably lead to their demise.

    From their point of view, and with their “all or nothing” attitude, I see no reason for them not to at least try this.

    If they keep going in this direction, the ball will soon be on Padrino Lopez’ / FANB’s court. They’ll have decisions to make. I guess that Maduro / Cabello will need to replace Padrino Lopez before going further. What if his replacement is Reverol? That’s a guy with a lot of incentives to stick with chavismo, “como sea”.

    • No matter who they replace Padrino Lopez with, I don’t think it will matter. The narco-generals can give all the orders, but I don’t think the junior officers and troops would follow them. They are just as sick and tired of this crap as everyone else.

      • I think the importance of the junior officers depends on what the narco-generals want/need to do. If they need to repress protests or forcibly calm the streets, they’ll need the junior officers to follow orders. But the government might not need that, they might simply need the FANB to do nothing, to stay quiet while they steal the election. If that’s the case, for junior officers to stop the government, they would need to at least make a credible threat that they’ll use force to stop them. That’s much more dangerous for them. In other words: for junior officers it might be easier to rebel by taking a passive attitude when they’re being ordered to take action, than to rebel by taking action when asked to do nothing. Again, in other words: it’s easier to refuse to shoot protesters, than to lead a rebellion when ordered to stay in their dorms.

        So, at some point, the onus might be on MUD to call for street protests to put the FANB between a rock and a hard place, and force them into a choice: either you stand with Maduro/Cabello to steal the election and openly become part of a dictatorship, or you take on PSUV and comply with the constitution. I was never a fan of La Salida, but I can see an scenario where something of the sort could be the only way out or forward for MUD.

        • You make a good point about the difference between passive inaction and being proactive. However, it can be argued that the FANB has already been proactive. Padrino Lopez stopped Maduro/Cabello from ordering street action by the Chavista Colectivos and Militias. That was a proactive stance, not a passive one. He intervened against the will of the executive instead of doing nothing. If we assume that Padrino Lopez did not do that because a deep-seated belief in constitutional democracy, then we can conclude he did it because he feared that the junior officers would rebel against the generals and would put down a violent insurgency by the Chavistas. In either case, the FANB took a proactive stand on 6D, so I would say that there is already a precedent for it.

          • Yes, I agree that if Padrino Lopez stopped Maduro/Cabello’s attempt to steal the election on 6D (and he likely did), it was a proactive stance. And also agree that the likelihood of junior officers rebelling must have been the main driver behind his decision. I just think that what might be needed from the FANB to stop Maduro/Cabello goes beyond what happened in 6D. It might require a proper show of force, whether by taking to the streets, or take some positions inside military bases, or even trading fire with colectivos. I hope it doesn’t come to that, but if that’s what’s needed of FANB, color me skeptical.

    • I agree with what you say, just remember Padrino Lopez turns into a pumpkin on Jan 1 2016 as his term, already extended from July 5, expires.

    • Padrino Lopez (my favorite General) is out of a job Dec. 31. Padrino hates Reverol and the army is very relieved with Reverol’s narcotics indictment. GNB and Army at each others throats. The Navy supports Reverol because the Admiral is also a major doper. The bulk of the US narcotics indictments are against active GNB generals. This will significantly weaken GNB. Padrino in many ways like Baduel, too caught-up in many things to effectively lead but a good leader nonetheless… he’s the best military leader to come out of the V. Who is next DEF MIN will be key.

  3. Problem is, even if the PSUV burgles back those seats in the assembly, they offer absolutely no game plan for righting a quickly sinking ship, and while they might hold onto power a little longer, they likely will find themselves responsible for not only a failed state but a pariah state. There ain’t no way big defaults are not in the immediate (February) future and with the food lines and medicine gone missing, how much more can the people and the military tolerate? Till the country looks like Somalia?

    • I think you make an excellent point here. There is a food/medicine disaster coming, and it’s just around the corner. It will be heartbreaking to watch. The more the PSUV is seen as in control of this coming economic catastrophe, the more likely that they will be held responsible for its taking place. Sad to say, but perhaps the best policy is to just step back and watch.

    • You assume this. Have you entertained the idea that the plan is to turn Venezuela into Somalia?
      When you look at the last 15 years with this view, things do come into a clearer focus.

      And btw, its important to be precise in this analysis, who are they? PSUV apparatchik? institutional military (sic)?, narco generals? public servants? Cuban colonial masters? big oil?

      Each group has a Plan. its just a patter of which plan drives which other plan. My point has been for a while that the only way to explai waht i See is that there is a driver plan to destruct the nation and run away with all the spoils. period.

      Que resuelvan el peo los que queden atras.

      The opposition should stay back and plan for dealing with the coming humanitarian crisis and reconstruction of stat-hood, and not fall trap into sinking with this regime,

      Its all or nothing for us too! high stakes.

  4. All comments on this subject are right on. As usual, it will be the Venezuelan military that decides the Country’s political fate, as it did in the election. The economic present and future is so grim, that I do not foresee the military not coming down on the side of reason/democracy, notwithstanding that a few high-ranking narco-heads will have to roll, and that there will be some short-/intermediate-term turmoil.

    • They must have gotten nervous when it was discovered that ‘Steve Harvey’ had been chosen to announce the winners of the new elections.

  5. Per Karl’s link – MUD must soberly investigate any rumored threats before waving at windmills lest they’ll seem reactionary and unsteady on their feet. That much said, do any of us expect Maduro to simply roll over? There has to be some shenanigan beyond Godgiven’s lame People’s Assembly. Daniel Lansberg-Rodríguez’s article felt spot on (thanks, Boludo) but he didn’t try and predict the unpredictable, and that’s what the next two weeks are feeling like to me. Like a great cliffhanger, with the whole damn thing hanging in the balance. This is Homeric drama, with the fate of a nation at stake.

  6. “Chuo Torrealba called it a “suicide measure” from the government party.”

    And if you think about it, it really is, because to do this when you have:

    – no popular support;
    – unclear military support;
    – unpredictable oil price that just hit an 11-year low;
    – a deteriorating economic/fical situation;
    – scarcity now resembling war zones;
    – the Macri factor, Argentina now longer as an ally…
    etc, etc.

    Happy 2016, Maduro!!!

  7. The TSJ sentence was already prepared and ready for signature , at the last moment one key magistrate refused to sign and now the TSJ has issued a message that implies such decision was never requested and was never on the works. As a matter of fact the filing of the submission was indeed made, given a docket number which now appears to have never existed . One magistrates signature was all that stood between this coup being implemented or abandoned .

    Maybe the position taken by some military had something to do with it , maybe the warning from some foreign former presidents , maybe the MUD´S very straightforward stance ……..the thing is that its apparently been called off. No doubt new attempts will be made to sabotage the oppos electoral victory , but for the time beings it appears as a stand off….

    • “…a docket number which now appears to have never existed.”

      I don’t know how the mechanics of this work. But, surely, there is some sort of public record. How could this just magically disappear? I am also curious as to your source on the above. Is it from someone with direct knowledge?

    • Well, if one magistrate was all that stood in the way, they might be taking care of that right now, appointing new magistrates in the AN. Among the 13 new magistrates, 2 are from the Electoral chamber. If the magistrate that refused to sign is one of the 2 retirees, he/she is about to be replaced by either Christian Zerpa (currently a PSUV deputy) or Fanny Marquez (VP of CENCOEX and also something in SENIAT). They’ll sign anything, right?

      So, it could go like this: Pack TSJ with loyalists. These will put a hold on MUD’s 2/3 majority, before 5E. AN is installed on 5E. Lacking a 2/3 majority, MUD cannot replace TSJ magistrates. If TSJ orders 22 new elections, PSUV only needs to win one to erase the 2/3 majority.

      With all the government’s resources poured into 5 or 6 local elections, I don’t doubt they can win at least one.

    • 1. no more elections, the gap nationwide is widening and people don´t eat canaimitas anymore (are they edible?)
      2. don´t trust the cne and its máquinas: well, 72h and still irreversible!
      3. El pueblo de Caracas: sorry guys, the love is gone circuit by circuit.
      4. Las FANB: remember what they said the 6D?, with them nothing is easy!!
      5. UNASUR (Mercosur or whatever word with SUR in it): – hello Christine, pls do something!! -hmm, hmm, Macri speaking…

  8. The biggest impediment just might be “unclear military support.” And Guillermo (Bill), you must live in Miraflores to have that kind of intel. Thanks. This thing is starting to feel minute by minute.

  9. something is basically wrong in a country where the deciding arbiter is almost always the Armed Forces, also a country where the the Armed Forces are involved in drug trafficking. Quite a situation.

    • In a very real sense, the Armed Forces are always the final arbiters everywhere. “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” – Mao Tse Tung.

      Of course, in most modern countries, it is not necessary for them to intervene. But, the fact that they COULD is what ultimately forces the politicians play by the rules. It is not an accident that their oaths include “to defend the Constitution…”.

  10. It might be wise for the oppo to create a shadow Supreme Court made up of the most recognized Jurist from the world of Academia , or from the roster of past Supreme Court Magistrates , Supported by the Deans of the 5 most prestigious law schools of the Country or by the Heads of the Regional Colegios de Abogados or by people appointed by the National Academy of Legal Scholars so that whenever the controlled court comes with some silly decision they can judge it on its legal merits on the most serious legal grounds .

    This will make it obvious when the corrupt court acts in a partisan fashion and help discredit the regimes use of the court to suit its political objectives. We need a respectable group to limelight the folly of the court decisions . This can have an important psychological effect on people both here and abroad.

    In time the existence of this kind of group can be institutionalized to purify the operation of Venezuelas legal system !!

    • Your idea is a good one… BUT… You are very nearly talking about forming the beginnings of a “Resistance Government”. And that is a very short step away from declaring an open rebellion. We are not quite there yet, and there is still some small hope of avoiding such a scenario.

      How about we do the same thing, but call it something else?

  11. Roy : In england they have shadow gabinets to keep tabs on what the governing gabinet is doing , there is nothing subversive in this , its a non legally enforceable accountability mechanism but one which makes the acting institutions subject to an scrutiny that holds them morally accountable before the public for their measures and decisions . Its a way of checking the tendency of sectarian partisanship to take over the operation of public institutions . In Venezuela it will make the governing legal clique feel watched and judged by their peers or superior in all they do. I would in time create similar institutions for every sphere of public activity but with auditing rights , this is the essence of any democracy !!

    • I get it. I really do. But that is not how the Chavistas will interpret it, nor how they would portray it in the international press. Consider your own visceral to Cabello forming the Parlamento Nacional Comunal. You probably saw it as a threat (and, of course, it is). There are a number of different fronts in this conflict, and one of them is the international opinion front. I still agree that the formation of this group is a good idea. But, if it is called the “Independent Venezuelan Judicial Council”, or something like that, it will play better.

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