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Venezuela Votes

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Venezuela Votes - by Stephen Lendman

On September 26, Venezuelans again voted, the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign (VSC - vicuk.org) saying to elect members to the 165-seat National Assembly. It happens every five years, and it's the 16th national election or referendum since Chavez's 1998 victory, taking office as President for first time on February 2, 1999.

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Bolivarianism is always at stake, represented by his United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). They were pitted against the opposition's Table for Democratic Unity (MUD), an alliance hoping to deny Chavez a two-thirds super-majority. It was PSUV's goal, campaign head Aristobulo Isrutiz saying pre-election:

"We're not working for a majority, but for hegemony in the assembly. It would be a convincing victory to surpass 110 lawmakers." Post-election, he said, "We put forth two-thirds as a goal and it was not possible to achieve it. But we are the majority," though short of a three-fifths one needed to enact Enabling Laws giving Chavez temporary decree powers that are limited, not unrestrained.

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However, organic laws or amendments pertaining to public powers, constitutional rights, or a framework for other laws require a two-thirds majority before the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice rules on their constitutional status. For example, Chavez needs a super-majority to appoint public officials like Supreme Court justices and the attorney general.

In contrast, most enabling laws pertain to economic or fiscal regulation, support and control of enterprises, natural resources, and politically related issues, unrelated to foreign policy. They avoid bureaucratic red tape and facilitate greater citizen participation, but don't grant dictatorial powers. They're constitutionally allowed, run for 18 months, and four previous presidents had them under the 1961 Constitution.

Venezuelan polls are always conflicting, varying according to the takers' bias, yet public opinion suggested a close vote.

The near-final results were good, but not enough for a super-majority as hoped. Having sat out the 2005 election, opposition gains were assured, though Chavez supporters hoped not enough to restrict PSUV control.

Results were as follows:

With three seats so far undecided, PSUV won 95 of the 165 legislative positions, a 58% majority that may increase, what US Democrats or Republicans call a landslide, aside from the popular vote little mentioned in presidential races. Only America's Electoral College one counts, so it's possible to win popular approval and still lose.

Indigenous Venezuelan communities always have three assured seats. One went to the Fundation for Integration and Dignfication, another to the Autonomous Movement of Zulia, and final one to CONIVE.

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MUD won 62 seats, a 38% minority. The center-left Fatherland for All Party (PPT) won two seats. Unofficial popular vote totals suggest it was split about evenly between PSUV and MUD, but confirmation will have to await an official National Electoral Council (CNE) announcement.

PSUV won most seats in 16 of Venezuela's 23 states, PSUV Vice President Elias Jaua saying:

"The revolution can count on a comfortable majority in the National Assembly....Few governments on our continent can count on such a comfortable majority of just one party. The opposition does not have any possibility, with this number of deputies, of reversing the legislative processes that have been completed or activating destabilizing mechanisms such as revoking public powers or impeaching the president."

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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