Venezuela: Chavez' party loses ground in parliamentary elections

It doesn’t seem to have gotten a lot of attention for some reason, but Venezuela just had elections to the National Assembly. The last parliamentary election was in 2005.

President Hugo Chavez’ party, the PSUV (United Socialist Party of Venezuela), had a 2/3+ supermajority before the elections – 139 of 169 seats, or 84%.

Now, after the elections, the PSUV still has a substantial majority but no longer 2/3+; it lost 43 seats. The main opposition group, the MUD (Coalition for Democratic Unity – a coalition of several parties, as the name suggests), gained 58 seats.

Possible interpretations:

  1. The voters are finally beginning to grow weary of or disillusioned with Chavez’ “Bolivarian Revolution.”

  2. Public opinion hasn’t changed all that much since 2005. The opposition parties made an improved showing this year simply because they decided to actually contest the elections – not boycott them, as they did in 2005.

The first is entirely plausible, but I favor the second as being obviously more parsimonious.

Chavez, BTW, will end his second term in 2013. Since he won a 2009 referendum abolishing term limits (for a lot of offices, not just the presidency), he can run for re-election then.

Whoops. :o

Mods, please move this thread from the 2010 U.S. Election forum to Great Debates.

Ehh… Chavez will put up with this exactly as long as it takes for the National Assembly to cross him. Then he’ll declare an emergency.

Chavez is President for Life (his - and as many others as it takes to keep him there).

Mods? Please move thread?


The best way to make sure that stuff like this is responded to quickly is to report your post (yes, you can report your own posts now). No mod reads all the threads in his or her forums, so waiting for one to notice a request in a thread may be futile.

I did hear about it, and I’m very glad. Hopefully, this should slow or stop Chavez’s push towards dictatorship, although I’m worried about the long-term prospects for Venezuela after he’s looted much fo the economy.

It’s good to know SuperHugo is no longer a dictator. And after being in power for over a decade his party lost some seats. How about that.

And now Chavez wants to arm the militia he created. Gee, I wonder why he might want to do that?

He’s also promising to further radicalize his political programs, with promises to expropriate more land from private ownership and nationalize more foreign businesses.

Looks to me like he’s taking the election setback as an excuse to become more violent and thuggish, rather than accept a little humility and compromise with the opposition.

:dubious: Come now, nationalization is not looting. Looting would be if he were putting everything in his own offshore bank account, or planning a re-privatization “pinata” to distribute valuable chunks of nationalized property to his cronies. No reason to expect that – for now.

Chavez did not nationalize things for fun, or for economic opportunities or efficiency. He did it so he could take the wealth and hand it out as, well, brbes to the electorate. It’s the “Roman Senator” method of becoming dictator, and it’s been used for thousands of years. Nothing uncommon, and it definitely is looting. The industries will themselves be poorer, and produce less because of it. And Chavez tried, at least, to use the stolen wealth to buy himself power - much like Caesar or Pompey, though not as successfully.

:dubious: How do you know that?

That’s not looting either. Sometimes it’s simply sound policy – not only in the electoral sense but in the social-policy sense. In Chavez’ case, it is nothing but keeping campaign promises. Building a more economically egalitarian society is exactly what he’s supposed to be doing, remember. It’s what the Bolivarian Revolution is mainly about.

Actually, no. No Dictator of Rome ever won the position that way, not even Caesar. (Caesar became popular by looting foreigners, not by redistributing the assets of rich Romans.)

And how do you know that?

Because nobody nnationilizes something to make it more effective (except possibly the Britons who destroyed their auto industry). You nationalize something to gain power - although in theory at least for the state and not yourself.

Handouts are not sound policy. It tears up the actual economy while filling bellies for a day’s meal. And then they’ll have nothing for the next one. In fact, you’ve just proven my point: Chavez bribed people. The fact that he knew he could gain political power from it is precisely what I said. That he advertised it in advance and people stupidly fell for it isn’t an argument against what I said.

As the smallest, yet most specific counter, that is precisely what Chavez has done much of the time. He’s also looted some domestics, but regardless, the principle is the exact same.

Furthermore, you are dead wrong about Ceaser. He definitely took the wealth of Romans, and so did many Emperors, before and after they took power. They were somewhat infamous for it. It’s how most of the great Senators became powerful.

And how do you know that?

You can actually check out figures on Venezuela’s production of certain commodities. Down, way down, even when oil prices were higher. One huge problem is that Venezuela can’t actually maintain the entire industrial base, and the foreigners who can were kicked out.

BrainGlutton mentions that “the PSUV still has a substantial majority.” It is also very important to mention that, even according to Chavez, there were 5.4 million votes for the PSUV vs. 5.3 million for the MUD (opposition coalition). Chavez’ government last year drastically altered legislative districts in their favor.

Hopefully he will not do a Mugabe in South America.

While this is very likely true I would post a 3rd answer to the op:

3 - the voters realized he’s a crazy dictator.

If this is true he may find out that President for life can be a shorter term than expected when General Phil Blank steps in.

Time for another round of ‘let’s rattle sabres at our neighbors’ from Chavez!

Wow! Look at all those knees jerking! I am going to have to wear a Chavez costume on Halloween just to scare the bejeebers out of my conservative friends. It’s funny how worked up they get about this particular elected official when there are so many unelected and oppressive regimes in the world. I never hear my conservative friends going off about Myanmar, for example.

Of course, the oil flows freely from Myanmar, so no reason to get worked up there, I guess.

As to the OP, I expect it’s some combination of factors. I’m sure at least part of it is that Venezuelans are tiring of Chavez. Personally, I think it’s healthier if Chavez doesn’t have a super-majority.

Agreed. In fact, I think that that this point the “Bolivarian Revolution” would have a better chance of beneficial results if Chavez were to die of natural causes tomorrow. A revolution, violent or nonviolent, should not be about one man, and Bonapartist presidentialism has a very mixed track record anyway – especially in Latin America.

I think it’s healthier when any party doesn’t have a super-majority. There’s many locations where lesser issues need only 50%+1 to pass, with weightier ones needing 2/3. In those locations, a ruling party or coalition with half+1 seats can get the more routine work done speedily, but more complex issues need the agreement of other parties, which means that more people’s views end up being represented in the final result.

But when the ruling party has 2/3 they tend to just push through anything they can think of, often things which their own bases don’t agree with but which some Thinking Brain figured would be nifty. Or at least, it’s been that way for Spain since I started paying attention to politics, at all levels of government. From what I see in other places, the situation when there’s a supermajority tends to be equally bad.