Advertisement

Opinion

Opinion

Chavez will fight election results

October 1, 2010

Advertisement

Venezuela’s opposition leaders are ecstatic about the results of Sunday’s legislative elections, which dealt a heavy blow to President Hugo Chavez. But they should get ready for Chavez’s counterattack. It will come soon, and it will be nasty.

Judging from what I hear from former close Chavez aides and other well-placed analysts, he is likely to circumvent the results of Sunday’s vote by pulling several tricks to consolidate his powers ahead of the 2012 presidential election.

On paper, Chavez won Sunday’s election by obtaining 98 seats in the National Assembly, while the opposition won 65.

But according to opposition counts, anti-Chavez and independent candidates received 52 percent of the popular vote despite Chavez’s massive use of government resources, virtual control of most electronic media and widespread intimidation.

“This will have a gigantic impact,” anti-Chavez leader and congresswoman-elect Maria Corina Machado told me in a telephone interview. “What was at stake last Sunday was whether a terrified society that feared all kinds of punishments if it didn’t vote for Chavez would overcome its fear. And people did overcome their fears!”

Opposition leaders stress that Chavez’s 33-seat majority in the National Assembly will be exclusively due to rules that were heavily tilted to favor government candidates. Pro-Chavez states like Amazonas could elect one legislator with just 20,000 voters, while anti-Chavez states such as Zulia required 400,000 votes to elect one legislator.

Still, the opposition carried several former Chavez strongholds, including the Caracas district of Libertador, where the presidential palace is located. Nationally, Chavez got 5.4 million votes, way below the 7.3 million votes he received in the 2006 presidential elections and 17 percent fewer votes than he got in a 2009 referendum.

Still, there are several scenarios under which Chavez could bend Venezuelan laws — as he has often done — to maintain his near absolute powers:

l Scenario 1: Chavez uses the outgoing National Assembly, which he fully controls until the newly elected legislators take their seats on Jan. 5, to pass an “enabling law” that grants him extraordinary temporary powers. He and previous Venezuelan presidents have done this.

l Scenario 2: The new National Assembly takes office Jan. 5. and Chavez no longer enjoys a two-thirds majority to rule at his will. But Chavez, through vote buying or intimidation, gets the votes he needs to get the new congress to pass an “enabling law.”

l Scenario 3: Chavez asks the Supreme Court, which he controls, to issue a ruling scrapping the two-thirds vote requirement and to allow him to pass key laws by a simple majority vote.

l Scenario 4: Chavez gives legislative powers to pro-government community councils, in effect stripping away the powers from the National Assembly.

He has done something similar before: When opposition Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma won in the 2008 elections, Chavez created an office of super-mayor of Caracas, appointed a loyalist to head it and shifted most of the opposition-held mayoral office’s duties and budget to the new office.

Will Chavez bend the laws to strip the elected National Assembly of its powers, the way he did with the Caracas mayoral office, I asked Ledezma this week. The opposition mayor said it’s going to be much more difficult for Chavez to do it because Venezuelans and the rest of the world would see it as a “self-coup.”

“It’s a different circumstance: Since Sunday, there is a new political map in Venezuela,” Ledezma said. “Now, the opposition won a majority of the national vote.”

My opinion: Venezuela’s opposition has not been as strong — and Chavez as weak — since the beginning of his presidency. But Chavez is likely to once again bend the Venezuelan Constitution, which he himself drafted, to maintain his populist authoritarian rule.

He is a military man at heart. He has publicly said from day one that he doesn’t believe in representative democracy, but in his own brand of “participatory” democracy.

There is little question that Chavez will use the Supreme Court and other government branches that he controls to try to void the new National Assembly’s opposition bloc of its powers. The only question is whether the international community will look the other way and allow him to get away with it.

— Andres Oppenheimer is a Latin America correspondent for the Miami Herald. aoppenheimer@miamiherald.com

Comments

independant1 3 years, 6 months ago

Good ol' uncle Hugo, he's so silly!

0

Tom Shewmon 3 years, 6 months ago

Tinky---hilarious.....'bout spit out my first cocktail of the day.....bozo, you're post is funny too.

0

TinkyWinky 3 years, 6 months ago

Eh oh commies,

What is happening to the world socialist/communist order? China jumped ship, Cuba is steering toward free markets, Venezuela is voting out the trash, America looks to dump many of its communists this fall, the only commies not in trouble are the north Koreans. And commies running in Kansas aren't doing much better. Commie Steph Moore is struggling, commie party leader Holland will get trounced, no other race looks close for the comms. Are Kansans seeing Red? Red as in democratic platforms resembling communist manifestos of the past.

Better off dead than Red!! Red Tubby Custard is terrible.

0

Flap Doodle 3 years, 6 months ago

Rahm's gonna need a new gig since it appears that he's not legally qualified to run for mayor in Chicago. Maybe he could head south & give Comrade Hugo a helping hand.

0

somedude20 3 years, 6 months ago

"if you see one movie this year, it should be Frankenhooker."- Bill Murray

0

Tom Shewmon 3 years, 6 months ago

Forget Hugo's election woes. What's he gonna do if Republicans take back the reins? He won't have that schmooz factor anymore with DC. And The Anointed One will be waaay too busy now that Rahmbo "potty mouth" Emanuel is history, Axelroid is heading back to Chicago too and a congress that doesn't rubber stamp all of his transformational gobbledy-guk.

0

bobberboy 3 years, 6 months ago

Chaves is nothing but a dictator. And a bad one at that !

0

Tom Shewmon 3 years, 6 months ago

I was thinking if he could summon Al Gore's scores of attornies he used in 2000, Hugo may be able to tackle this election problem.

0

TinkyWinky 3 years, 6 months ago

Eh oh Hugo,

Perhaps if it gets uglier down there Hugo can ask his marxist brothers for some good ole marxist intervention. Castro is leaning toward capitalism so Hugo would have to rely upon B. Hussein Obama for his marxist help. B. Hussein Obama is the most hardcore marxist in the world today.

Central and South America news, read where the US is going to appologize for infecting Guatemalans with STDs in the late 1940s for research puposes. Hmm, who was president and who controlled the congress in the 40s? Who could it be? Who could it be? Maybe............Democrats!!

0

Flap Doodle 3 years, 6 months ago

All the people of Venezuela will be better off when Comrade Hugo's noggin is decorating a pike.

0

autie 3 years, 6 months ago

Tom, I believe the article states that Hugo has all the media now. Plus he has the friggin army i think....

Scenario 5; roll in the troops and start rounding up all the opposition and send them off to be re-educated. Hugo is a prick, no doubt. But stretching the analogy on every single thing that comes down the pike to Obama just wears a little thin...thus erroding credibility.

0

Tom Shewmon 3 years, 6 months ago

What Hugo needs is legions of supporting media, like Obama has. If Hugo had New York Times, NBC, ABC, CBS, LA Times, Washington Post, scores of other metro papers, NPR, CNN and then the far-left blogosphere; moveon, dailykos, mediamatters, huffington and trainloads of elites in the entertainment industry, he would not have these problems.

0

CorkyHundley 3 years, 6 months ago

Leftists are taking notes. Hollywood leftists like Penn and Glover love Chavez. What can Obama and his minions do to get himself into a President for life occupation. Watch Chavez in action. Obama has said recently that "It took time to free the slaves".

0

Commenting has been disabled for this item.