The wait is through, #5E has come and gone: Habemus Henry and the deputies have been sworn in. 163 of them, anyway.

While most of us keep on wonderingbout ¿por dónde empezar? – where do we start – the better question is: “¿cómo organizamos la pea?‘ – how do we coordinate a multi-pronged plan of action?

Some say that politics should come before economics, others say that the economic crisis cannot wait any longer, and others even say that the parliament should not get near the economic crisis so the central government receives all the blame. As you can see, it all revolves around politics and economics, leaving a ton of other issues out of the picture. In fact, the Assembly needs to deal with the politics and the economics and 15 other things too, and all at the same time.

Is that too much to ask? It isn’t. Here’s why.

Let’s start with a simple number: 112 deputies. If we add the 112 alternates, we get 224. And if we include all of their assistants (because they all probably have at least one), the muscle of the new majority goes all the way up to 448. Yeah, that’s 448 individuals that can be simultaneously revising laws, overseeing, comptrolling, promoting well-prepared hearings, etc.

But how do we organize such a big group in a way that all the important jobs are attended to and no one is left without a meaningful role to play?

Imagine a 15 drawer cabinet in which we have to stack a huge bag of toy soldiers. Since we are all for transparency, let’s make it a clear-plastic cabinet. Each drawer must contain at least 7 toy soldiers and no more than 25.

Thankfully, the 15 drawers are labelled:

  1. Política Interior
  2. Política Exterior, Soberanía e Integración
  3. Contraloría
  4. Finanzas y Desarrollo Económico
  5. Energía y Petróleo
  6. Defensa y Seguridad
  7. Desarrollo Social Integral
  8. Cultos y Régimen Penitenciario
  9. Ambiente, Recursos Naturales y Cambio Climático
  10. Pueblos Indígenas
  11. Poder Popular y Medios de Comunicación
  12. Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación
  13. Cultura y Recreación
  14. Familia
  15. Administración y Servicios

Once you have your toy soldiers in their respective committees, the drawers might seem a bit messy (remember, is a clear-plastic cabinet), so it’s time for some custom-made drawer trays: each committee can establish subcommittees to attend to specific bills or other matters of national interest pertinent to each committee. This trays will help organize the work and, most importantly, assign responsibilities. Remember: alternates and assistants can help with the work load, so there are a lot of helping hands available.

At this point you must be wondering: who decides which tin soldier goes in each drawer? The Reglamento de Interior y Debates establishes a simple rule: the political organization with the most seats chooses first, then comes the party with the second most seats, and so on and so forth. Deputies can scream “shot-gun”, but the drivers -parties- will make the ultimate detention. Meaning: each party decides from which trench -or drawer- they want their toy soldiers to fight from.

There are some drawers that most parties want, like the standing committees on Domestic Policy, on Foreign Policy, Sovereignty and Integration, on Comptrollership and on Finance and Economic Development. We can honestly see the appeal, but the other drawers imply a ton of work and they shouldn’t be left to die: an empty drawer is a waste of space and resources.

And since all clear-drawers are structurally alike, the visibility and “cool” factor will ultimately depend on the work and communicational skills of the deputies. So maximize your drawer utilization, keep each drawer in order (don’t ever forget the clear walls), put some bumper-stickers on it and voilà.

Once the toy soldiers are in their respective places, is time to play.

There seems to be consensus on an Amnesty Law and MUD published a legislative proposal (though at this stage it reads more like a draft than an actual proposal). But, honestly, the path is not clear… we only see some scattered Blue’s Clues.

We think that 112 deputies, 112 alternates and -at least- 224 assistants can multitask, right? So it doesn’t have to be a single road map… there can be 15 maps, one for each committee. This doesn’t ignore the fact that political tactics have to be taken into consideration, but it doesn’t have to be this OR that… it can be this AND that.

In its first month in office, each committee can:

  1. Properly prepare -at least- one good committee grilling, for a total of 15 blockbuster interpelaciones.
  2. Decide on – at least – one law that should be revised during 2016, for a total of new fewer than 15 laws.
  3. Decide on – at least – two topics to be subject of intensive oversight during 2016, for a total of no fewer 30.

The quality of the parliamentary work is not a simple matter of politics, it’s also a matter of team-work and good organizational skills. The post-#5E world is upon us. Las cosas aquí han cambiado. So it’s time to organizar la pea.

 

18 COMMENTS

  1. I concur and wish them good wisdom in realizing exactly what you say Anabella.

    Now, given our own idiosyncrasies and specially politician’s biases, I would expect more feather ruffling and codo fights to be in front of the camera and make appearances than actual work.

    Lets hope that the deputies and assistants and back office operators for each assemblyman, are also eager and capable of doing the nitty gritty leg work so they have a chance to be front runners in the future.

    The stakes are high. thanks for raising the bar in accountability and giving all of them some pointers on waht is expected this time around. Lets see if really “las cosas han cambiado” allup dixit.

  2. I know it is not very important in the overall scheme of things, but I sure hope the new NA can reopen the Miami consulate and rollback the Visa requirements on U.S. Citizens.

  3. My one observation: The man that has to lead the Finance Commision has to be Jose Guerra, since his work precedes him and shows that he keenly understands the dire situation of the economy.

    Besides that, I’m not informed enough to make an opinion.

  4. Very interesting post and I like the pragmatical aspect to it. However, I do agree with other comments here in that it will be very difficult to apply given “criollo” idiosyncrasy, let alone, real experience to execute. However, I think that you do have to start somewhere and this is definitely a proposal which has legs and can be used as a boilerplate template. In my humble opinion, I do think most congressmen (both oppo and government) don’t have a clue about how to execute anything besides organising political rallies and doing politics which to some extent overlaps with planning and resource allocation but not to an extent that can get them to perform at the level required. Why? Just simply look at their track record, past jobs (if they ever had real ones). I am a half-empty type of person though, so maybe I’m just too pessimistic. But to keep up with the pragmatical line, let’s take real examples: people like Guevara, Requesens, Stalin Gonzales (doesn’t even have an undergrad) which all went straight from undergrad into politics. They have probably never worked in competitive environments, worked in projects with clear and measurable objectives, etc, so how do you think they will do? I think not very well. More importantly, we also need someone to supervise such plans in large scale… Do you really think someone like Allup, Borges can do such thing? I doubt it.

    My suggestion: seek help from various people with empirical knowledge who have performed well in other countries. I don’t care if they are from the private sector, the public sector, corporations, NGO’s, we need external help given the deterioration the country has experienced. The collateral damage of this deterioration is the wide inexperience of the population (even middle and higher classes) to perform anything that requires real competitive skills and knowledge in high demand in other countries in the world.

  5. You have the right idea, but I would be shocked if there are not a LOT more than a paltry few hundred people working behind the scenes, and that they have been working non-stop since the election, if not from well before then. By now, they should already have all of the new laws drafted including contingencies for every conceivable counter-measure by the regime. They should also already have selected all the committee appointments.

    The deputies we see are only the tip of the iceberg. At least, I sure hope so! From American Civil War Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forest there is a paraphrased military aphorism that says, “Get there the firstest with the mostest.” Our new National Assembly is going to have to be fast and agile, as they are engaged in battle against a well-entrenched behemoth.

    • Don’t get me wrong: I know there is a ton of people working. But the efforts must be organized and I know it’s not an easy task. And truth be told, almost nothing has been said about how the committees will be organized and we’ve only seen/heard-of a rather basic legislative proposal.

      All I want is to call attention upon the fact that there is much to be done, but if la pea no se organiza (which can and should be done) the party will be a rather dull and inefficient one. I’m really hopeful for the all the things that the new majority of the National Assembly can accomplish, so I think that talking about this things early on it’s pretty important.

  6. I have a proposal to offer (although given that I’ve never worked in government at any level I realize this may be pure fantasy):

    How about hiring a top notch global accounting firm to do a top-to-bottom audit of the entire national government over the past 3 years, every ministry and every project (excepting perhaps the military, in order to avoid provoking an intervention)? The eventual results would be summarized by said firm on national television on a specific target date, and laid out in greater detail online.

    U.S. firms would be out of the question for obvious reasons. But how about a German outfit? Or a Swiss one? Or Canadian, or Finnish, etc? The more neutral the country, the better.

    This would show, con sumísima claridad, who is working for the people and who is not. It would reinforce that MUD is committed to real transparency and accountability and force PSUV to explain why they fight against it tooth and nail.

    Approval and initiation of such an audit might even send the vermin scurrying for the exits.

  7. The political task of our era is only to put the country in workable shape, just workable, and then work hard on the adaptive processes that will eventually put our own experts to work. These guys aren’t there to solve everything. They’re there to clear ground and give empujonsitos.

    To bring in a slew of foreign experts would be shoddy patchwork. Why not rather bring in foreign investment? Re-think education?

    In any case, first things are first. Let’s think of the next 100 years rather than the next 5. That means using the next five to stabilize things and begin small, incremental steps to become a powerful people.

  8. A suggestion for the CC management: Would it be possible to post a daily summary of actions and decisions taken? Or a link to somewhere else that is doing so? Thanks!

  9. .How about the education drawer? It is a very complex and huge matter from the economic, demographic, social, and technological points of view as to be relegated to a simple corner within another drawer. It deserves a drawer of its own. Our future quality of life depends on it.

Leave a Reply