The Venezuelan opposition scored a big victory, despite its defeat in not having a majority of the National Assembly. The opposition obtained 52.9% of the vote, obtaining 635,000 more votes nationwide than Chavez’ PSUV party. Thus, the opposition not only managed to block Chávez from obtaining a two-thirds majority, its minimum political goal, but also showed how rigged the system is when it obtained a majority of the votes, but only around 40% of the Assembly pending the undecided seats.
The results emphasized how rigged the system is, as the Venezuelan Constitution guarantees in Article 63 the right to proportional representation, but Chavismo, through its control of all powers changed rules and districts in order to insure it could retain control of the national Assembly. These changes were brought to the attention of the Venezuelan Supreme Court who either rejected the cases or has never ruled on them, showing once again, that the rule of law is seriously compromised in Venezuela. The results highlights that Chavez’ “legitimacy” is seriously questioned now, given this victory despite the loss in the popular vote.
The biggest loser in the election was not Chávez, but Henri Falcón, the Governor of Lara State who split from Chávez selling himself as an alternative to Chávez, but who failed to obtain a single seat in the Assembly.
There were some surprises at the regional level, such as the 12 to 1 victory in Zulia State, a victory for that state’s Governor Pablo Perez, as well as surprising victories in Anzoátegui, Sucre and Aragua state in what had been considered Chavismo strongholds. In Caracas’ Capital District, the opposition obtained more votes than Chavismo, but received only 3 out of ten Deputies. Acción Democrática, became the opposition’s largest party, obatining 1.8 million votes nationwide out of the 5.7 million obtained by the MUD parties.
Not having a two thirds majority implies that the Government will now have to sit and negotiate naming Supreme Court Justices, the General Prosecutor, the Comptroller, and the People’s Ombudsman or approve major structural changes in the country’s structures.
But the results do not guarantee that Chávez will stop the pace of his revolution. He has some of the Bills he needs in place to continue forward and he can increase parallel funds to promote his pet projects away from the supervision of the National Assembly. However, the opposition will have a strong and constant presence in the Assembly that will give it visibility going forward.
For Chávez, the results are a warning sign in the face of the 2012 Presidential election. If oil does not increase significantly in the next two years, problems will compound as oil production drops and the lack of investment continues to have important effects on infrastructure. Add crime, inflation and lower imports and the panorama is not easy for the Venezuelan President.
Thus, no spin can change the impact of the opposition victory. No participatory democracy like the Venezuelan one can have the results obtained last night. For once, Chavez’ tricks and treachery show dramatically what he is about and that alone is a huge victory for the opposition.