For the first time the opponents have the necessary strength to challenge the power of Maduro.
After 17 years of socialist government in Venezuela, two thirds of the seats (112 out of 167) in parliament now belong to Maduro’s opponents, a party called Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD). The party’s members have different ideologies, but have a strong opposition to chavism in common. Although they control parliament, Maduro is still the president of the Republic and controls the government until the end of his mandate in 2019.
Por ahora – for now – is what Hugo Chavez said in 1992 after his failed attempt of a coup d’état. “Por ahora, we have not achieved our objectives” he said. Those two words became a myth, a symbol that after a defeat a great time will come, no matter what is happening now.
And por ahora is what Nicolas Maduro repeated several times, commenting the results. And at Chavez’s mausoleum, he accused his opponents of discrimination, class hatred and told the workers who voted for the opposition that they will regret this.
“The bad guys won, like the bad guys always do, through lies and fraud” he said. “Workers of the fatherland know that you have a president, a son of Chavez, who will protect you”.
This result is important because for the first time the opponents have the necessary strength to challenge the power of Maduro and, above all, the chavism or the “21st century socialism” that has ruled the country since 1999. They have the power to rewrite the Chavez’ Constitution.
“May you have a strong foundation when the winds of changes shift”, as Bob Dylan was singing in the ’70s, a wind of democracy is blowing in Venezuela but the foundation of the country has many problems and MUD is going to face difficult tasks.
First of all, MUD doesn’t have a clear economic plan, they just blame Maduro’s policies for the economic crisis of the country. There is a shortage of basic goods and inflation is in triple digits.
The country’s stock of foreing currency is diminishing, due to the spending of the government and the fall of oil prices. “There are fears that it will default on its foreign debt in 2016” analyzes The Economist, “the government has given no indication that it is prepared to undertake the reforms necessary to stabilize the economy. In the short run those measures, including a devaluation of the Bolívar, realistic prices for petrol and other goods and a smaller budget deficit, are likely to deepen the economic distress”.
Another important point is the Constitution. Written by Chavez in 1999, it gives power to the opposition to reject government’s budget, appoint or dismiss a Supreme Court judge and organizing referendums.
However, the real aim of the opposition is to change the constitution. Maduro,
president of the Republic, is supposed to be in power for six more years. Through a
referendum the people can recall him from his office and proceed to another
election. This can happen when the president is in the half of his term (which
is 2016). The opposition needs just a fifth of the signatures of the electorate
to initiate it. Moreover, there are more than 70 political prisoners to free,
but Maduro is not willing to give an amnesty to them. “Murderers have
to be prosecuted and have to pay” he said. The constitution will be
fundamental for this issue.
And it is clear that the regime will put all its effort to strengthen its
position in the new assembly through new laws and reforms. For example, “there
is speculation that it will extend an “enabling law” that allows the president
to pass laws by decree” according to The Economist.
The conflict between the chavists and their opponents is still going on, but democracy achieved an important victory. Por ahora.