Monday, September 27, 2010
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC:  Chavez foes advance in election

The Venezuelan opposition has performed well in elections, overturning President Hugo Chavez’s two-thirds majority in parliament.

Mr Chavez’s United Socialist Party (PSUV) still won a majority of seats in Sunday’s poll, but will now be unable to pass major legislation unaided.


Electoral authorities announced that the PSUV won at least 90 seats, and the MUD at least 59 – surpassing the key target of 55 required to overturn the PSUV’s two-thirds majority.

This is interesting for a variety of reasons.  One is that there has not been a relevant opposition in some time in Venezuela, so it will be interesting to see if this outcome actually produces an active and significant bloc within the legislature.  Along those lines it is worth noting that the opposition boycotted the 2005 elections, which instead of damaging the legitimacy of those elections simply gave the PSUV more power.

The second noteworthy element here is that we do again see elections in Venezuela that appear to be genuine.  This is not to say that there are not a variety of serious problems with the quality of democracy in Venezuela, but the fact of the matter remains it is not the simple autocracy that many like to paint it.  I say this, by the way, as a critic and a skeptic regarding Hugo Chávez’s overall interest in democracy.

I will further present the following caveat to the point in the previous paragraph:  the issue of Venezuela’s qualified democracy and how it should be viewed, described, and evaluated is a more complicated issue that an early morning blog post can tackle.

A few more things worth noting:

the new parliament will not convene until early January, leaving Mr Chavez three months to push through any key reforms.

This will be interesting to watch, especially as it pertains to the question of whether especially dramatic legislation is passed.

Also, the role of the electoral rules are of interest:

The MUD also claims that it actually won an overall majority – 52% – of votes cast, but that changes to electoral districts and voting rules prevented that being translated into parliamentary seats. However, the breakdown of the popular vote has not been confirmed by the National Electoral Council.

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