Political Risk Latin America Blog @PolRiskLatam

Venezuela politics: Big blow to Chávez

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on September 28, 2010

by The Economist Intelligence Unit, September 27th, 2010.

Hugo Chávez’s socialist revolution suffered a big blow in the legislative elections of September 26th. Though the governing party won a majority of seats, it failed to hold on to the two-thirds it sought. The opposition went from next to no seats in the National Assembly to winning at least 62 (out of a total 165). Hence, for the first time since the opposition boycotted elections in 2005, the president will face some checks and balances on his power. He may yet find ways to impose his will, but this could spur increased political turmoil just when the population is growing restive because of poor economic conditions and rising crime. How the government and opposition behave will also have an impact on the 2012 presidential race. 

According to preliminary results, the opposition, newly united under the umbrella Mesa de Unidad Democrática (MUD) and backing a single slate of candidates, won 35% of legislative seats. It claims its true victory was even greater, and that it won 52% of the popular vote—but was deprived of that majority because of recent electoral reforms that rejiggered electoral districts, giving greater weight to rural areas with lower populations but pro-Chávez constituencies.

 Even so, the governing Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela (PSUV) will no longer be able to rubber stamp laws and presidential appointments. It could see some initiatives requiring two-thirds support, such as appointments to the Supreme Court or laws to overhaul education and local governance, blocked by the newly empowered opposition. (continue reading… )

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