A Marathon, Not a Sprint

Smart political movements know when the time comes for a tactical retreat. Now's the time to withdraw the three Amazonas deputies and fight on with 109.

By now you know that yesterday the Supreme Tribunal issued a judgement of more than questionable legality: every action emanating  from the National Assembly will be considered “null” until the three deputies from southern Venezuela whose proclamation the tribunal had suspended are separated from their seats. This is shocking, but not surprising.

What should the New Majority of the National Assembly do?

The first institutional possibility seems pretty straightforward: ni un paso atrás. The new majority could keep going with its 112 deputies and disesteem any illegal judgements from the TSJ.

Bit what can the New Majority actually do if every single one of its decision is – legally or not – pre-nullified? Diosdado Cabello already said that the 112 deputies’ majority wouldn’t get a dime or be able to publish a single law on the Gaceta Oficial our tropical Hansard. Even more so, Cabello already announced their next move: use the omisión legislativa card to replace the National Assembly with the Supreme Tribunal’s Sala Constitucional.

The second institutional possibility is to take a step back and reorganize. The new majority could separate the three deputies from their seats and fight their case, while the other 109 deputies get organized to fight from all angles.

I’m all for the second option.

I think the new majority should play the political game and not exclude itself from the get-go. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Wouldn’t it be great for Nicolás Maduro to present his annual Memoria y Cuenta in the National Assembly? Shouldn’t the new majority try to take a jab at the Economic Emergency Decree, even if Maduro then decides to send it to the Sala Constitucional? What about all the comptrollership powers the National Assembly still has?

Imagine the opposition doing everything that the simple and 3/5 majority entitles it to better, if it did it all at once.

Did you know the simple majority can authorize before the TSJ the arrest and prosecution of deputies presumed to have commited crimes; or not authorize the absence from the national territory of the President of the Republic for periods of more than five consecutive days; or attribute municipalities or states with certain matters of national competence, in order to promote decentralization? Did you know the 3/5 majority can approve the motion to censure the Executive Vice President or Ministers, which would imply their removal?

Some argue that if the new majority of the National Assembly disinvests the three MUD deputies from Amazonas, the government will try to challenge even more opposition deputies. This might happen even if the three deputies are not disinvested, so I don’t think it should be a deciding factor.

Some see disinvesting the three MUD deputies from Amazonas is a sign of weakness.

I think it’s more a sign of tactical nimbleness, of adaptability, and street smarts.

This a political war and sometimes an army should take a few steps back, get reorganized, get more ammo and come back with better equipment and better tactics. This is an unfair war, but a war the opposition must fight.