The Venezuelan Opposition’s Big Win in the National Assembly
In the National Assembly elections of December 6th, the opposition MUD (Democratic Unity Coalition) party took a decisive 2/3 super majority. Of the 167 seats, the MUD won 109 seats + 3 MUD-affiliated indigenous representatives, for a total of 112 seats under MUD control.
At the time my analysis was published by the Foreign Policy Research Institute, votes were still being counted. The final tally was 112, as above, not 113 as in the article.
However, if the regime gets its way, that number will be reduced. The Chavistas (as the party of the late Pres. Hugo Chávez is known) are already bringing charges against 26 of the elected representatives. That would prevent them from taking office and leave the MUD with a simple majority, rather than the 2/3 super majority they have now, which gives them the vast powers they now possess — including calling a presidential referendum, that could oust Pres. Nicolás Maduro. While the regime’s PSUV party and the opposition MUD are both uncomfortable coalitions prone to infighting, the MUD has traditionally been by far the more disorganized coalition and its tendency to fracture and fight internal turf wars is an weakness the regime routine successfully exploits.
The MUD has many battles, internal and external, for it to exercise its democratic mandate take back power from 17 years of Chavista rule. Whatever the challenges the Chavistas throw at them, they must establish their governance credibility. For them to win a recall election, they would have to have a referendum AND win an election before the end of 2016, which is ambitious. At any point after that, if Pres. Maduro were to lose a referendum on his presidency, the rest of his term (until December 2019) would be merely be served by his Vice President, Jorge Arreaza. Regardless, in 2019, the MUD will face an election. There is a lot they have to prove between now and then.
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